KINGSTON — In the fall of 2021-22, Kingston Community Schools’ enrollment was 626 students.

KINGSTON  —  In the fall of 2021-22, Kingston Community Schools’ enrollment was 626 students. 

In the spring of 2021-22, the district had 611 students. This year, In both the fall and spring counts, the district has had 577. 

This fall, however, enrollment is expected to grow – at least in one area. A survey showed 13 students eligible and interested in a new young 5 program.

“That’s probably double or even two and a half times more than we normally have,” Superintendent Matt Drake said. “That kind of caught us off guard.”

One of the things to come out of a district-wide goal-setting, strategic planning session in January was the community wants more pre-kindergarten service for children enrolled in the district’s day care programs – Great Start Readiness Program, Head Start and preschool. 

The district’s board of education decided Feb. 27, Drake said, to commit to running a young 5s classroom next year. Michigan children have the option of attending a Young 5s program if they turn 5 between June 1 and Sept. 1 of the school year beginning later that year.

The district hasn’t determined, Drake said, if those 13 pupils will make up the bulk of next year’s kindergarten class. That will be determined after the April 12 kindergarten roundup.

Normally the district would have two kindergarten classrooms. The district generally has about 40 kindergartners, or 20 per classroom. Next year that might turn into a single kindergarten classroom and a Young 5s classroom, or two smaller kindergarten classrooms and a single Young 5s classroom.

The makeup of the kindergarten and Young 5s classes will be determined by the kindergarten roundup numbers.

The board also: 

■ Accepted the Section 98b student achievement data. The COVID-19 pandemic, and the educational loss to students, brought on the passage of Public Act 144 of 2022. Section 98b of that law requires districts receiving state aid to review three times a year students’ progress toward goals set for the year. Kingston’s goal was for 60 percent of the students to show growth since their fall assessments. The data showed 100 percent of the kindergartners had growth in reading and 95 percent showed growth in math; 63 percent of the first-graders showed growth in reading and 96 percent showed growth in math; 88 percent of the second-graders showed growth in reading and 98 percent showed growth in math; 90 percent of the third-graders showed growth in reading and 95 percent in math; the fourth-graders showed 82 percent growth in reading and math; 79 percent of the fifth grade showed growth in reading, while 73 percent showed growth in math; and 74 percent of the sixth grade had growth in reading and 92 percent showed growth in math. The seventh- and eighth-graders had 84.5 percent show growth in reading and 100 percent show growth in math. In the high school, 100 percent of the students showed growth in English/reading and in math.

■ Learned this year’s valedictorian is Ethan Green, who also was a Michigan High School Athletic Association Class C Scholar Athlete, and the salutatorian is Conner Seaman. The honor grads with a grade-point average of 3.5 or higher are Ethan Harrington, Cortney Acker, Adrianna Essenmacher, Rachel St. George, McKenzie Taylor and Brooke Retan; and the honor grads with a GPA of 3.0 to 3.49 are Emily McGee, Deirra Jenkins, Logan Cloyd, Elizabeth Blankenship, Madison LaFond, James Wilson, Destiny Traster, Riley Smith and Lydia Freeman.

■ Learned powerlifters Hunter Vennevy, Matthew Summerfield, April Diehl and Ashley Miller will qualify for the state varsity meet while Faith Boyl, Marissa Klupp, Steven Haag made the junior varsity state meet.

■ Learned the district also just lost another of its new bus drivers to a job outside of the district. That means Kingston is relying on two long-term substitutes to drive the district’s routes, and only three full-time drivers remain on staff. This latest driver will leave on March 19, just months after completing training and certification to become a full-time driver. Drake said the only option is to contract with an outside agency to provide the district with the drivers it needs. The district has six bus routes to run each day.

■ Signed a contract with Foster’s Blue Water Oil of Richmond to provide propane for Kingston’s six new buses. The firm also is helping the district find a site and set up the storage tank and equipment needed to be able to refuel the new buses. The plan is to get that equipment installed once the ground has thawed in the spring. Foster’s will provide the propane tank and the pumping station and will train district staff on how to properly and safely fill the buses with fuel. Foster’s had been providing the district with its diesel fuel. The cost will be under $1.50 a gallon for the propane, down from $5.30 cents a gallon for diesel.

■ Learned the changeover to light-emitting diode lights at the elementary school is expected to be completed during spring break. When that is finished, both schools will be 100 percent LEDs.

■ Hired Danielle McClellan as the competitive cheer coach, Jenna Tetil as girls’ track coach and Jessica Flikkie as the girls’ track assistant coach.

■ Named athletic director Carl Nicol as the district’s Friend of Youth for the Thumb Track and Field Meet of Champions.

■ Approved a board policy adding Narcan to district schools to be used in the event of an opioid overdose in one of the buildings.

■ Approved spending $2,000 on artificial turf for the baseball and softball batting cages and will front each program up to $2,000 for any additional equipment needed. Each program will have to repay, by the end of June, however much of that $2,000 they spend on the cages.