Changes to early childhood and 4-year-old kindergarten programming in the School District of the Menomonie Area are being recommended.

District Administrator Joe Zydowsky laid out a recommended plan to the board of education at its meeting Monday.

After reviewing changing needs of the programming, the administration is recommending the addition of another afternoon 4-K program to Wakanda Elementary. This provides another option in north Menomonie to reduce transportation challenges, Zydowsky said.

The district also would split the early childhood four and 5-year-old program into two sections, with one at Wakanda Elementary and the other at River Heights Elementary. Currently this early childhood program is only at Wakanda, Zydowsky said.

A community-based play group also is being investigated to provided a more inclusive opportunity for 3-year-olds in the early childhood program.

The district is recommending the changing of the name of its autism and intellectual disabilities program to S.O.A.R (social, occupational, academic, and real life learning).

When the administration brings its staffing plan and budget before the board, it will reflect the recommendations.

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“I just want make sure that parents understand that it’s actually an opportunity for them to be with their peers but also still getting that special care they need or that the parents and the student are desiring,” school board president Amy Riddle-Swanson said.

More options would be available for students with self-contained, inclusive and more mainstream options, Zydowsky said.

“The beauty of this plan is it really provides a wide menu of opportunities for 3-year-olds all the way up when you get into your regular elementary setting,” he said.

Staff input was taken into account in drafting the recommendations. Changes in staffing could occur with a need for more 4-K teachers and less of a need for paraprofessional educators.

There also was discussion about all-day 4-K programming at the state level, Zydowsky said. This isn’t expected to take effect by the 2020-21 school year.

“I do think it’s in the best interest of our students and our school district,” Zydowsky said of the recommendations. “I’m very confident our staff are more than capable to do a great job with this.”

The next school board meeting will be Dec. 9 at the district’s administrative service center.

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