Editorial: Burnishing that strong reputationSome good news has emerged from our school district recently. Not that this is unusual, but in case you missed it, we think at least four items are worth pointing out.
Some good news has emerged from our school district recently. Not that this is unusual, but in case you missed it, we think at least four items are worth pointing out.
Three of the items have a direct effect on students. Two of them affect the youngest of our students.
The River Falls School District this fall joins the vast majority of Wisconsin school districts by launching its version of four-year-old kindergarten called RF4C. There is a six-figure startup cost, but the program is designed to actually become a moneymaker for the district in the coming years.
RF4C doesn’t require building more classrooms. Instead eight local childcare providers, using state-licensed teachers, will partner with the school district to offer the program.
National research reveals the long-term academic benefits of helping all young learners at an early age, especially right before they enter kindergarten. RF4C is positioned to do just that. It will likely help some 4-year-olds in River Falls who wouldn’t normally have access to preschool education.
A pilot program starting in March will start teaching Spanish to kindergartners and first graders at Greenwood Elementary. The Greenwood kids will be taught in Spanish during a portion of social studies and science class times.
The goal would be for this program to expand to the other elementary schools and be taught K-5. The idea is to have a language that many students become fluent in. Considering the large and growing Hispanic population in the United States, Spanish is a logical foreign language to emphasize.
Studies also show that exposure to a second language at so early an age makes it easier to learn and stimulates new brain pathways. As a result, learning a second language also creates better well-rounded students.
The seven-member school board is now adding a nonvoting, unelected member. That addition happens to be a high school junior student. The idea, very sensible, is to gather more input on school issues from the students’ perspective.
Finally, district administrators and the school board, continue to look for ways to save money. Taking advantage of record-low interest rates, they’ve been busy refinancing past and upcoming debt loads relating to old and new construction jobs.
Because of these efforts, school district homeowners and businesses will pay less in taxes for building projects, including one for the high school that goes back a dozen years. The savings of well over a million dollars will be spread out over the next decade.
The above actions show innovation and frugality. These reflect positively for the school district’s educational commitment and finances. Combined, they also burnish the district’s reputation, one that draws young families to River Falls.