District 11 board provides funding to give Buena Vista 2 Montessori classrooms

       Having been assured of Montessori funding from District 11, Buena Vista Elementary School is continuing to register students for the new program, which will start in the 2004-05 school year.
       Through June 2, a total of 27 students had registered for the lower elementary class (ages 6-9) and 19 for the preschool/kindergarten class (ages 3-5).
       The plan is to cap the lower elementary class at 30 students and the 3-5 class at 24, according to Vallorie Buffa, an Ivywild School teacher who is helping coordinate Buena Vista's Montessori program (and will have two children enrolled). A waiting list is also available, she said.
       The district will be providing funding for two Montessori-trained teachers as well as $75,000 in teaching materials, according to Glen Gustafson, chief financial officer for District 11.
       The funding will allow the program to get underway. Parents and school staff have applied for grants - including a $2.2 million application under a federal program - but these efforts are still pending.
       “Our board (of education) members wanted to move forward with the Montessori program, as did Dr. (Norm) Ridder (superintendent of schools),” said district spokesperson Elaine Naleski. “The district thought this was valuable enough to put the money in and get the program up and running.”
       Buffa said the district funding will also give a boost to the grant applications by showing district support of the program. The district is also benefitting because Montessori is a “magnet” for out-of-district enrollments, she said, noting there have been nine such students so far in the lower elementary class.
       Montessori is a style of education allowing individual students to work at their own pace, on projects that interest them, under the close tutelage of trained staff. The Buena Vista program will be the first of its kind in District 11. Currently, Montessori is only available in private schools in the area.
       There is a fee for the preschool/kindergarten class. The lower elementary class, which covers the equivalent of grades 1-3, is free.
       Buena Vista will still have traditional grades K-5 during the 2004-05 school year.
        To register between now and July 1, go to Buena Vista, 1620 W. Bijou St. or call the school at 328-4100 for more information.

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