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Community Ed program fees will remain the same this year

There will be no fee increases for School District 833 Community Education programs in the 2006-07 school year, according to Director Ernie Pines.

The budget, approved by the school board, includes a 6.9 percent increase in expenses that would have triggered a fee increase. The $414,000 deficit will be covered with money from the Community Education fund balance.

Spending the excess to offset expenses will bring the fund balance to 10 percent, which is in line with school board policy.

Program participation increased 8 percent last year, Pines said, with the expansion of remedial and tutoring programs.

The Kindergarten Plus program, which offers a fee program for an additional half day of kindergarten, is expanding from 22 to 26 sections this fall at 14 elementary-school sites.

The program is self-sufficient and has $33,000 to allow for aid to low-income families for the first time, according to Pines.

Federal funds for a teacher and counselor in the Families in Transition program at Pullman Elementary School have run out. The program offers help for children of mothers in the shelter for battered women located in St. Paul Park.

With aid from the Local Collaborative Time Study, one full-time teacher will be paid for the coming year. The shelter is seeking grants to continue the program, Pines said.

Strong participation is expected to continue in Rainbow Kids Klub, an extended-day program for elementary-age children. Pines said an additional $130,000 has been added to the program to cover financial aid for low-income families.

This summer, Community Education offered a week-long camp featuring the Mandarin Chinese language for elementary-age youngsters.

Pines said the demand for foreign languages in elementary schools is increasing with no room in the existing school day to include them.

As a result of school board concern, after-school language programs at several district elementary schools will be offered this year, coinciding with the availability of after-school activity buses.

The department is evaluating the structure of its supervisory positions, Pines said, with a 2.5 percent increase in salaries for community education employees built into this year's budget.

Judy Spooner
Judy Spooner is the longest-serving staff writer at the South Washington County Bulletin. Spooner, who covers education and features in addition to writing a weekly column, has been with the newspaper for over 30 years.
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