Half of the 14 Naperville School District 203 elementary schools will now offer all-day kindergarten beginning next year, after school board members approved the proposal Monday.
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All-day kindergarten will be implemented at seven Title 1 schools, which are schools with a large low-income student population. Those seven schools are Ellsworth, Naper, Elmwood, Mill, River Woods, Scott and Beebe.
Issues concerning costs and space for students still need to be worked out before the program will be made available at the remaining half of District 203 elementary schools, according to district officials.
Superintendent Dan Bridges said there are “viable options” for creating classroom space within the seven Title 1 schools.
“That being said, we have facilities that present some challenges because of their design, their location, the facility itself,” Bridges added.
Two schools will need renovations in order to make room for the all-day kindergarten program. Remodeling at Ellsworth Elementary is estimated to cost $300,000 with a target completion date for the summer of 2013. Also, a $1 million addition would be needed for Naper, which wouldn’t be completed until the summer of 2014.
The district has currently spent $380,000 in start-up costs during the 2012-13 school year for the program. Once all-day kindergarten is implemented, operating costs for next school year are estimated to be about $928,000.
On Monday night, board member Dave Weeks raised concerns regarding class size once all-day kindergarten is implemented in fall 2013. However, officials said the district would still be able to accommodate students within a reasonable class size.
“We don’t anticipate that this is negatively going to impact class size,” Bridges said.
In terms of curriculum, officials said math and literacy programs for all-day kindergarten are not completely written, but will be completed this spring.
Students in all-day kindergarten will have about 55 additional minutes for math per day compared to half-day kindergarten and about 60 extra minutes for language arts.
District 203 Board of Education approved the all-day kindergarten proposal by a 6-1 vote Monday night, with Weeks dissenting.
Weeks said there is value in an all-day kindergarten program, especially for at-risk children, but he had concerns over costs as well as implementing the program for only half of the district’s elementary schools.
“There’s no way that this community will stand for half of our schools having all-day kindergarten and half of them not,” Weeks said. “And we are committing ourselves, at a time when we have no idea what are budget restraints are going to be, to huge expenditures.”
“If we wait for Springfield to make any decisions, we will be waiting a long time and I think that we have to move forward,” Board member Suzyn Price said.
Will you have children enrolled for all-day kindergarten next year? Let us know in the comments.