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Council will address full-day kindergarten in special session

The Harrison County Council will meet in special session June 7 at 7 p.m. to address a request for $4 million for education, including full-day kindergarten on a voluntary basis in the three public school systems.
At its regular meeting on May 24, questions arose concerning the council’s action and the correct way to bring up the funding for another vote. At the earlier meeting, the council denied the request and then tabled it. Council attorney Michael Summers left the room to look at Roberts’ Rules of Order on parliamentary procedure to determine what steps, if any, could be taken to allow the council to act on the appropriation that night.
Summers said since the appropriation was initially denied at the council’s May 10 meeting, it could not then be tabled until the May 24 meeting. ‘I can’t find any way for it to be reconsidered this evening,’ Summers said.
Even suspending the rules for the evening wouldn’t work, Summers said, because the amount which had been denied had to re-advertised with 10 days’ notice to the public.
‘That’s not only for the people who want to come and speak in favor, but for those who want to come and speak against the appropriation as well,’ Summers said. ‘Any vote tonight would be considered a gentlemen’s agreement, but we have a rule there will be no more gentlemen’s agreements.
‘What I suggest is that the amount be advertised Wednesday for a special meeting at least 10 days later,’ Summers told the council.
At that, Councilman Alvin Brown moved to hold a special meeting June 7 to vote on the funding. Kenneth Saulman seconded the motion and it passed unanimously 6-0. As the chair, Gary Davis did not vote, but the others voting in favor of putting the issue on the agenda for June 7 were Rhonda Rhoads, Carl Duley, Ralph Sherman and Carl (Buck) Mathes.
A large contingent in favor of full-day kindergarten was on hand at the meeting, including superintendents Dr. Neyland Clark of South Harrison, Monty Schneider of North Harrison, and Dr. Phil Partenheimer of Lanesville.
Before Summers’ ruling, Partenheimer and Rhoads debated the issue. She backed full-day kindergarten but with state or local school funding, not riverboat revenue as requested. She pointed out that Evansville, which also has a riverboat, had declined such funding.
‘What would we do without a riverboat?’ she queried.
‘My answer is, we do have riverboat money, and our riverboat makes more money than Evansville’s,’ Partenheimer said. ‘We have fewer students than Evansville, and we can pay for it.’
Rhoads countered: ‘If we didn’t have riverboat money … would it be something we could fund in other ways?’
Partenheimer said on previous occasions when the school superintendents asked for riverboat money, they were told to stop asking for funds for capital projects. ‘We were told to ask for kids’ programs, and all but $10,000 of our request is for direct kids’ programs.’
With that a loud clap of thunder interrupted Rhoads’ response. Without skipping a beat, she said, ‘My time is up.’
As he prepared to sit down, Partenheimer said to Rhoads: ‘I think I know how you are going to vote.’
‘I would appreciate it if you did not denigrate me,’ Rhoads said. ‘All I’m saying is the responsibility is the state’s, then the school boards … If the schools want this, they should come up with the money.’
The three school systems are seeking $4 million, about double the usual amount, for educational purposes based on student population, as follows: South Harrison, $2,062,400 ($2 million plus); North Harrison, $1,531,6000 ($1.5 million plus), and Lanesville, $406,000.
To some who fear full-day kindergarten would be too stressful for the child, several said the additional hours would ease the time constraints and make school a more enjoyable experience for the youngsters.
South Harrison already has full-day kindergarten in all of its elementary schools, except Corydon. South Harrison plans to implement kindergarten there (possibly on its own) and would use its riverboat revenue to provide counseling in the elementary schools.
Lanesville and North Harrison already have counselors, and would use their extra money for full-day kindergarten. In all cases, whether a child attends full-day kindergarten or not is up to the parents.
At North Harrison, a survey of elementary school parents at Morgan and North Harrison shows 87.5 percent in favor of full-day kindergarten, according to Schneider’s figures.
As of May 24, the riverboat account set aside for education (of all sorts, including adult continuing education and the public library) has a balance of $6.1 million. Altogether, the riverboat fund has a balance of $13.7 million.