Michael Gallina, superintendent of North Canton City Schools, stressed the importance of community input Monday night as he addressed a hot topic within the district — the move to all-day, every-day kindergarten.
“We want a process to look at every angle of options,” Gallina told an audience inside . “This meeting allows us to have information shared. We really want added input.”
Gallina said the community meeting was about going through objectives. He said it’s about how they can offer the every-day kindergarten plan to the district.
“Every voice needs to be heard in an equal and unbiased nature, “ Gallina said.
Parent Sara Vance said she feels that what’s “best for the kids is good for the school."
Parent Beth Fuciu said she's OK with all-day kindergarten, but she’s against the redistricting. She’s hoping to hear other options.
That redistricting would mean the creation of primary and intermediate centers, making and elementaries K-2 buildings, while and Orchard Hill elementaries would house grades 3-5.
The district would use the to house the , and the . The district would raze the the building they're currently in on Charlotte Street.
Curriculum Director Peggy Savage said that by law, parents may choose to send their children to a half-day kindergarten; however, she said all-day kindergarten offers many benefits.
“It gives teachers time,” Savage said. “Time for strategic thought and follow-through."
The options at this point are to not offer the plan and seek another waiver if still available after House Bill 30 is addressed. That would buy the district one more year.
It could offer a plan at the , the Elementary Service Plan or consider moving a plan into existing schools.
Director of Business John Stanley said they are looking for ways to control spending. He said the less building they have to do, the less it will cost them to maintain. The Early Childhood Center is the oldest of the district's buildings and needs renovations. He said everything has to work well for him to say it’s a good idea.
“North Canton always has been a conservative district,” Stanley said.
Parent Melissa Link said she’s not against all-day kindergarten, but she’s against "shuffling" students around.
“They didn’t give reasons why they need to shuffle our kids,” Link said. “Why do we need to dismantle the structure that is standing now?”
Link was also concerned with how it would affect other aspects of the school system.
“This is going to dilute the success of the PTA and parent involvement,” Link said. “If they’re wrong, they can’t fix it.”
Ben and Torie Utterback are parents who recently moved to North Canton for the schools, and they still feel it was a good decision.
“We favor the K-5 plan,” Ben Utterback said. “However, that’s why we elect the school board to make these decisions.”
Utterback said he feels parents are looking at this from an emotional standpoint. Overall, everyone ends up at the same place.
The all-day, every-day kindergarten plan is a work in progress. School officials hope to have a set plan by mid-March.
“Families have to plan for next year for all-day kindergarten options,” Gallina said. “We want to be helpful to their planning. But at the same time, we won’t face a decision at a bad pace.”
The district’s next community meeting will be at 7 p.m. Wednesday at Hoover High School’s Hoover Hall.