On July 22, the board agreed to aggressively pursue the option of full-day or "all-day" kindergarten—possibly in time for the 2014-15 school year.
Back in 2008, a Geneva School District 304 task force took a look at full-day kindergarten and came up with some options for its development. The report concludes that full-day kindergarten is valuable and should be pursued.
"The research seems to indicate, overwhelmingly, that the advantages of having an all-day kindergarten program outweigh the disadvantages," it said. "However, each state and each individual school district must, ultimately, make that decision for its own schools and students."
One of the problems at that time was the cost. Here are some of the projected costs listed in the 2008 report, if the proposal were implemented in 2009:
- Kindergarten Teachers @ $55,000 X 12 = $660,000 (Education Fund expense)
- Kindergarten Assistants @ $15,000 X 12 = $180,000 (Education Fund expense)
- If and only if new classrooms were needed to be built: $276,000 per classroom (O&M Expense)
- Potentially each new classroom would need to be furnished and equipped at an estimated $12,000 per classroom. Two classrooms per school would be converted under the 2008 plan. (O&M Expense)
Presently, the district is suggesting an increase of 8.5 full-time equivalent teachers. At issue is whether that would require additional classroom assistants, as well.
The district will take a look at what space is needed and whether that space is already available in existing buildings. There might be additional food-service and transportation costs, although there might be transportation cost savings, since students would take buses at the same time as other grade-school students.
Other questions revolve around where the money would come from to pay for the full-day classes—and options range from grants, state aid, fees, property taxes or some other funding sources. St. Charles, for example, charges $219.44 per month, per student for full-day classes.
At the Monday School Board meeting, board member Leslie Juby asked to see a copy of the 2008 report. Since then, School District 304 has posted the 2008 study prominently on its website, where it also answers two frequently-asked questions:
I understand a study on full day kindergarten was done in the past. Why did the Board decide not to implement the program at that time? (posted 7/23/2013)
A study was completed in 2008 that recommended the implementation of full day kindergarten. However, financial constraints at the time hindered the carrying out of that recommendation. Instead, the Board of Education made the implementation of full day kindergarten a long-term goal for the District and, in the interim, approved the development of a transitional program called Kindergarten Foundations to help those kindergartners with the greatest need. The Board committed to revisiting the topic of full day kindergarten at a later date. On July 22, 2013, the Board directed District administrators to create a task force to investigate the feasibility of full day kindergarten.
What can parents do to help with the decision to implement full day kindergarten? (posted 7/23/2013)
By expressing an interest, either through speaking at a Board meeting or emailing the Board of Education, parents and community members can help keep this topic in front of the Board and make their opinions known. Parents are also encouraged to ask questions and attend any public forums that will be held on the subject.