Is it time for the B word?

Bond discussed as Bayfield kindergarten class bulging

Bayfield School Superintendent Troy Zabel uttered the B word at the Aug. 12 board meeting. As in bond issue.

It's time to start that discussion, he said.

As of that morning, 123 kids were registered for kindergarten, with a few more likely by the time school starts on Aug. 19, Zabel said. So the administration was looking at hiring an additional kindergarten teacher to keep class sizes down. The board did not take any official action on that last week.

"We want to hire that position and go to seven sections," Zabel said. "We'll have to get creative with (classroom) space."

Zabel said Finance Director Amy Lyons calculated that the per-pupil funding for 122 kindergarteners, above what was budgeted, will pay for the additional teacher. "We want to make sure we aren't down (in enrollment) somewhere else." He expected to have that information this week.

"We can't really wait. The kids will be here next week," he said. Some of the kids have not been in preschool, and they tend to require more work from teachers. But he said the kindergarten bulge is "a good problem to have."

As for whether that will continue or is a blip, he said the second grade is a pretty good size class, but BEEP preschool enrollment is down a bit.

On the question of finding space for another kindergarten classroom, Zabel said, "When we're trying to find space, it's time to start studying for a bond." He suggested handing it off to a District Accountability Committee (DAC) subcommittee "to look at the pulse of the community, and what should that facility be. Elementary? Primary? Two K-5 buildings? We know where we'll build it. It's if this is the right time."

Work is finishing up on the high school additions and renovation paid for by an $11-plus million extension of an existing bond issue that would otherwise be paid off in 2019. Voters approved the extension in 2012 along with a separate mill levy override to pay for things like technology upgrades and competitive teacher salaries.

The high school project budget was $9.25 million. Around $715,000 of the bond extension money went to buy 40 acres south of the middle school as a future school site. Other bond money went for roof repairs and conversion to LED lighting at existing schools.