Task Force will make recommendations to school board

By Chuck Kajer

The task force looking at issues surrounding the construction of two new elementary schools in the New Prague Area School District wrapped up its work last week, and will report its recommendations to the New Prague Area School board at its April 25 meeting.

At its final meeting Thursday, April 7, the Task Force voted to recommend that the district operate three separate K-5 schools. They had also considered keeping the current K-2 and 3-5 setup at the two New Prague buildings, while having the New Market building operate as a K-5 building.

Before members of the task force went over the pros and cons of each of the two options, they asked if there was a financial difference in operating or constructing the building to accommodate a 3-5 setup. Superintendent Dr. Frankie Poplau said that it would not be a financial decision as far as construction, it would be a matter of setting up rooms for squire footage depending on the grade configuration.

Tim Rybak, the district’s operations director, pointed out that the current primary school, which houses grades K-2, was originally built as a K-6 school, and when an addition was built in the early 1990s, it was a K-4 school.

Task force members were asked about the pros and cons on the two proposed configurations. Cindy McNab, a primary school teacher, pointed out that keeping the current split would eliminate some of the boundary issues, and said after-school activities, such as family fun nights, would work better with the current split.

Christi Ryburn, a parent, disagreed, saying the family fun night would attract a wider age of ranges than just the K-2 or the 3-5.

Teacher Katie Forberg said having a K-5 split would eliminate the logistics of buses having to stop at two schools.

Ryburn said she spoke to one mother who was looking forward to having all three of her children in the same building, and asked if taxpayers were expecting K-5 or K-6, based on what was said in the campaign. Poplau said the district never made any commitment regarding the configuration, but that many taxpayers made that assumption.

Intermediate school teacher Rich Wilson said teachers he has talked to are split 50-50 on the issue.

School Board member Bob Reed pointed out that within a few years of the new schools opening, the district would likely be opening a fourth elementary. Maybe now would be the clear-cut time to make the move to K-5

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