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Ludlow Schools Closer to New Hyrbid Full-Day Preschool Program, New Technology for Teachers

Ludlow Independent School Superintendent Michael Borchers unveiled an ambitious plan for radically updating the technology in his schools during a lengthy school board meeting Thursday night.

"The plan will give us 120 new work stations, or desk tops, as well as all new laptops for the teachers," he stated. "We have been struggling with technology for years, and this looks like a way we can update everything and be on a level with other facilities."

The board was asked to approve the plan so that Borchers can enter into serious talks with Dell about a lease agreement that would allow the district to lease the computers for three years, and then if a computer were to quit working or to need repairs the district would get a replacement and the computers would be updated at regular intervals. Because of money the district receives from the Kentucky Education Technology Systems, or KETS, after all the numbers are tallied, the cost to the district for the entire computer update would only be $1,200 more than they usually budget to spend updating the computers.

If Borchers can complete the agreement with Dell, the whole system would be in place by the next school year.

Beth Ketzer, Director of Preschool at Ludlow, came to give a presentation on how negotiations are going with Children, Inc. to be able to offer the parents of Ludlow's preschoolers a full day of school and care for a very low price in their hybrid preschool program. There was a meeting to allow parents to talk to representatives from Children, Inc. a few weeks ago and because of that Ketzer has 12 children ready to take advantage of the program. She told the board that Children, Inc. has said if Ludlow can supply 12 to 15 children for the program on a consistent basis, they would find a way to rent or procure property at St Boniface/St James so that the children could stay within the city in the following year.

Currently, the parents would drop their children at St Ann's School on Route 8 in Botany Hills, just down the road from Ludlow, which is already a Children, Inc. facility. The board was scheduled to have a tour of St Ann's this month but since the building is being fully renovated the board will do the tour in early May and then likely vote on the finished agreement at its regular May board meeting.

"The Children, Inc. facility is a four-star facility, and the only thing that keeps it from being a five-star is that the playground is 22 feet too small," said Ketzer. "So for half the day our teachers will run the normal Ludlow preschool program there at St Ann's, and the other half would be more of a Children, Inc program with our assistant teachers overseeing it. The benefit to parents is that they would get a full day, from 7 a.m. to 6 p.m., so they can work, the children get quality preschool, and it will only cost a small amount. We also still have our half day preschool program for those who only need a half day."

Every year the school board comes up with a list of jobs or repairs that have to be done.

This year the board listened to maintenance director Randy Wofford as he presented a few places on the roof that need attention. The roofs over the elementary school, the middle school, and the high school hallway as well as the windows in the high school library and a new marquee set to be installed at the building at the corner of Adela and Elm Streets over the parking lot are all on a must-do list for this summer. If the district does all those jobs at the same time, they can get the work done for $41,000. Final approval will come when the final bids are in.

Other jobs were listed, such as a special coating on the floors, and painting, but those jobs haven't received any tentative bids yet.

Ludlow has already been involved with dual credit courses with Northern Kentucky University, but Gateway Community & Technical College has a campaign for early college credits that they have been pushing to the River City districts. The board approved launching an additional program with Gateway that includes dual credits in music, sociology, biology, and history for juniors, and includes English 101 and 102, math, and communications for seniors at the Gateway campus on Madison Avenue in
Covington. The only dual credit class offered in conjunction with NKU will be criminal justice.

Jennifer McMillen, College and Career Readiness Coordinator, gave a presentation on the Gallup Poll which was given to students from the fifth though the twelfth grades in the fall which included questions to gauge how the students felt about hope, engagement, and well being. The students scored 58 percent in hope, which was up from last year, and 60 percent in engagement, up from last year, and 67 percent in well being, which was down a point from last

Another survey given attention was the KIP survey, or Kentucky Incentives for Prevention, which tries to predict how students feel about drugs, alcohol, smoking and firearms. Results varied by questions­­­some were up from last year, some were down, and some of the questions were new this year, but the board seemed okay with the results, since it seemed to point out that the students tended to be on a normal curve.

The board also approved the firm of Barnes, Dennig and company to start the annual audit for the district, which will be sent to the state. In addition, the board approved an additional teacher for the fourth grade next year, since it is an oversized class, and the teacher will follow that class as long as the numbers dictate the need.

Congratulations went out to teachers Penny Abel and Marc Frevola who received Golden Apple awards for teaching at a banquet held on March 26. Also, Principal Jason Steffen announced that the school did very well at the Governor's Cup competition this year.

Written by Patricia A. Scheyer, RCN contributor

Photo: Ludlow Preschool Director Beth Ketzer holds a flyer for the early Head Start program with Children, Inc. as she presents progress on the hybrid preschool program Thursday night (RCN)