Parents of District 203 students will have to be a little more patient on waiting for a decision about all day kindergarten.
Citing areas of “unanswered questions,” such as the amount of state aid the district will receive and the overall financial impact of enacting an all day kindergarten program, Superintendent Mark Mitrovich recommended the decision be put on hold.
“It is my recommendation of the board, at this time, that any final decision on all day kindergarten be delayed until this fall,” Mitrovich said at last night’s District 203 Board of Education meeting, held at Naperville North High School.
District 203 currently offers a half-day or two-and-a-half hour program for kindergartners; however, some officials believe a shift to all day kindergarten is necessary in order to meet the state’s Common Core Standards.
, officials explained that these standards would implement significant curriculum changes and also affect students in kindergarten, requiring a focus on literacy, math and science. Officials said trying to teach students the additional material necessary in a two-and-half hour day would be exceedingly challenging.
While some board members agreed with holding off on a decision, board member Susan Crotty wanted to see action taken.
“I feel like we’re just kicking it down the road,” Crotty said. “All of the sudden, it’s important, but we just can’t do it now. I feel that if it’s that important then we need to do it.”
She brought up the possibility of testing all day kindergarten as a pilot program, a proposal that would begin during the 2012-13 school year. But officials said there was not enough time to develop an effective program that quickly.
Board President Mike Jaensch felt there was no need to jump the gun on the issue, and board member Dave Weeks agreed.
“I owe it to everyone here and everyone in the community, that if we do it, we do it right,” Weeks said.
The meeting drew a large crowd and attendees showed a mixed reaction to a pilot program as well as how and when all day kindergarten should be put into effect.
“Honestly, I would take a pilot [program] and let my child be the guinea pig next year instead of having 10 months worth of meetings and having people talking back and forth, back and forth, back and forth,” said Naperville resident Melissa Deacon.
If all day kindergarten is put into place, roughly $500,000 would be needed for curriculum development, an additional $150,000 for facilities and the program itself would have an overall yearly operating cost of $2 million.
“This in no way, no way, changes our commitment to all day kindergarten,” Mitrovich said. “[Holding off] is a prudent thing that we must do in order to be able to go into this program eyes wide open, and at this point we can’t do that.”