Rhea set to offer full-day programs

Rhea set to offer full-day programs

July 10th, 2011 by Tom Davis in News

Jerry Levengood, the director of schools in Rhea County, Tenn.

Jerry Levengood, the director of schools in Rhea...

DAYTON, Tenn. - The Rhea County Schools system is expected to offer all-day kindergarten this year, with a starting date to be determined after transportation and other issues are evaluated.

School board members on Thursday approved a plan presented by Superintendent Jerry Levengood and set a target of Oct. 1 to begin offering a full-day rather than a half-day program. But Levengood said an exact starting date will be set after officials analyze transportation needs and the abilities of the children involved.

"Kindergartners come to us with all ranges of abilities and knowledge," he said. "Before we begin to transport children and put them off the bus [at their stops] we need to know where they live. We're starting school with a dangerously low number of buses we can put on the road. I don't know the impact of [all-day] kindergarten on transportation."

Levengood said officials would plan to implement the all-day program after the initial uncertainties of a new year settle down.

At the same time, board members approved a letter of intent to purchase nine buses for the year.

Levengood said the letter could be used to assure bidders the purchase would be completed when the budget is approved and funds are available. That way an order can be placed now, and buses should be ready for delivery more quickly than the normal three to four months if an order is approved, he said.

Board members also delayed for study a suggestion that the county enter into an areawide purchasing cooperative. Board member B.J. McCoy expressed concern that the contract would direct purchases out of state rather than using state or local companies.

Levengood agreed to research the matter and provide more information at the August meeting.

Tom Davis is based in Dayton. Contact him at tsdavis@volstate.net.