A vote was pushed back to December on Tuesday by the Mexico School District No. 59 Board of Education regarding a proposal to turn McMillan Elementary School into a pre-kindergarten and kindergarten grade center in an effort to expand services at those grade levels. Eugene Field and Hawthorne Elementary would become first- through fifth-grade neighborhood schools. Some board members still are seeking answers to logistical questions before they feel they can move forward.
“We have spent a lot of time thinking about this. This is not a rush thing,” said board President Dustin Pascoe. “The first question I would ask the board is if we need to leave — if we need to take more time to gather or share information, and therefore … we should vote on this in December or if we should entertain a motion to vote on this tonight.”
Board Vice President Heather DeMint and member Brian Rowe indicated they are not ready to move forward until their questions are answered by the district.
Pascoe and member Nathan Birt said Tuesday they were ready to move forward.
“Voting now adds a month to the prep time,” Pascoe said about the implementation plan the district will have to craft by March 1. “We are on the clock, so to speak.”
Pascoe recognized that the district and the board is not going to reach all parties, and there may be people who protest the reconfiguration, because they have not taken the time to seek answers to their questions or are apprehensive of the change.
Rowe seeks more definitive answers on how the pre-k and kindergarten expansion will work. At this point, the district would like to add another section specifically of pre-k to meet the needs of about 30 students on a waiting list. It likely would bring more four-year-olds into the district. While the hope is to bring in three-year-old students, that likely is not as feasible, Superintendent Zach Templeton said.
“I think at the end of the day, we need to be able to measure our success rate,” Rowe said. “I would like to see a plan laid out for pre-k. What do we want for our first year? Where do we want to go?”
DeMint said there are still questions in regard to students in more specialized classes, such as special education and English language learners.
“I still feel that communication is a huge issue. While you’re never going to have a full buy-in, you still need to have your staff and your teachers on board,” she said. “I don’t think it’s been communicated to them how it’s going to work.”
While board members received a lot of good information at the Nov. 15 town hall, questions remain, board member Scott Nichols said.
“This kind of conversation has been going on for some time,” member Nathan Birt said. “To delay further limits the ability of Dr. Templeton and his team to answer these questions. … I share the concerns everyone has made, that there are lots of unanswered questions. … We’ll always have those questions until we start taking some action.”
The board decided not to table the discussion, but to have questions they have compiled into questionnaire document for the district. Pascoe wanted to make clear that this document will be made available to anyone who requests it from the district.