Archive for Tuesday, January 15, 2008

De Soto board moves program out of Horizon Elementary

January 15, 2008, 6:32 p.m.

Updated: January 17, 2008, 12:00 a.m.

— Patrons on the east side of De Soto USD 232 soon will have to travel farther for early childhood education services.

The De Soto USD 232 Board of Education Monday night approved 5-0 making Countryside Learning Center the district's official early childhood development center for the district for the 2008-09 school year. The move will free up space at Horizon Elementary School.

Countryside serves 25 early childhood education students and 24 peer model students. Horizon serves 49 early childhood education students and 39 peer model students from the east side of the district. However, Superintendent Sharon Zoellner said that needed to change.

"We are out of space at Horizon," she said Monday before the board approved the change.

The new elementary school drew in more students than expected with a total Sept. 20, 2007 head count of 599 students. That number includes the early childhood education and peer model students.

Susan Sipe, special services director, said the students should be able to adjust to the changes, however it might be a bigger adjustment for their parents.

"The biggest challenge would probably be the transportation," she said.

The district must provide transportation for students who qualify for early childhood education according to state mandates. However, nearly half of the students enrolled in the early childhood programs are peer models who do not receive transportation. That means some parents will be driving from one side of the district to the other for the services starting next school year.

Sipe said Countryside has plenty of room to house the students in the early childhood program.

"We need to work with children one on one and Countryside affords us that opportunity," she said.

Sipe said some students on the east side of the district already were attending Countryside because of the space issues at Horizon.

A $10.5 million early childhood education center was included in the Sept. 18 bond referendum that voters rejected. The center would have been located on the Horizon site and was scheduled to be complete by fall 2009.

Sipe said although early childhood is moving before the proposed childhood center would have been completed, the district might have found a way to avoid the move in anticipation of the new center.

The move to Countryside is part of being in a growing district, Sipe said.

"When the population is concentrated in one location there is going to be inevitable shift," she said. "That is not a bad thing."

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