New Bloomfield District: More funds needed for early childhood education

NEW BLOOMFIELD, Mo. — Early childhood education was again a topic of discussion for the Board of Education at its meeting Thursday.

At the Dec. 20 meeting, the board assessed funding of New Bloomfield’s preschool program, which receives $40,000 a year from the state. Superintendent David Tramel said the lack of state funding means the district may need to find an internal revenue source to support the program and possibly expand it.

Thursday’s meeting surfaced the need for funding to the Parents As Teachers program.

Currently, New Bloomfield R-3 School District pays one part-time parent mentor to visit 15 children twice a month, and the program is at its maximum capacity, according to Sarah Wisdom with New Bloomfield’s special-education program. The parent mentor is certified to support children from birth to 3 years old and give parents tools and resources to develop brain activity in their children.

Because the program serves children at the beginning stage of life, parent mentors are able to identify developmental issues and teach parents how to deal with those. Wisdom said by tackling problems early, children are “learning at capacity” when they reach the preschool and elementary school levels.

Wisdom said the district has less than $5,000 to support visits. She said it costs about $55 per visit and cuts from the state four years ago are a reason the program cannot reach more children.

Julie Gerloff, elementary principal, reported her school now has a total of 20 interactive projectors that teachers are utilizing in the classrooms. Title I funds and a grant from the New Bloomfield Education Foundation helped pay for the interactive projectors.

The elementary school also received a $300 grant from the foundation to go toward a Lincoln University dance troupe performance. Angie Sullivan, president of the foundation, said the elementary students will be “exposed to different cultures” throughout the performance.

Susan Dudley, assistant middle school and high school principal, reported to the board changes to the A+ program requirements. Students in the senior class of 2015 or later must score proficient or advanced on the algebra I end-of-course exam to be eligible for the program.

Jeremy Davidson, middle school and high school principal, said high schoolers’ current ACT scores are above last year’s average. He reported the current average score is 22.4 and the average score from 2012-13 was 21.1.

New Bloomfield Board of Education meetings are on the third Thursday of the month and are open to the public.

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