All-day kindergarten OK’d in D203
By Hank Beckman For The Sun January 8, 2013 9:14AM
Students including Kiya Odeh get their coats on and get ready to leave for the day. The students now are in Mrs. Simpson's morning Kindergarten class at Beebe Elementary every day until 10:45. District 203 has started all day kindergarten at a few of it's schools with the plan to make it district wide in the future. All Day Kindergarten increases the students time in the classroom from 150 minutes to 350 a day. | Brian Powers~Sun-Times Media
Updated: February 10, 2013 5:45PM
It’s official. Naperville School District 203 will begin all-day kindergarten at selected elementary schools next fall.
With only Dave Weeks dissenting, the Board of Education Monday night approved beginning an all-day program at seven schools in the district.
The schools picked are “Title One” schools, so named for having more than the district average of 13 percent of their students receiving free or reduced price lunches. The schools are Ellsworth, Elmwood, Beebe, Naper, Mill, River Woods and Scott.
The move to all-day kindergarten will increase the time students spend with teachers from 150 to 350 minutes per day. It will double the amount of time students spend on language arts and more than triple the time spent on math, district officials said.
Start-up costs for the program to begin next fall are $380,000, including $300,000 for remodeling of Ellsworth Elementary to accommodate all-day kindergarten.
But a room addition for Naper Elementary will cost $1 million. That work will be done next year.
“I don’t see how we can justify throwing a million-dollar addition onto Naper,” Weeks said.
Weeks also said that the decision to go to all-day kindergarten, once made, could never be undone, and that the board was in effect saying that all-day kindergarten for all students was a foregone conclusion.
Indeed, District 203 Superintendent Dan Bridges has made it clear that the district intends to expand the all-day kindergarten program to all District 203 elementary schools.
Looming large in the decision is the coming Common Core Standards, an initiative designed to bring various state standards into better alignment.
All-day kindergarten is thought by most educators to be especially important for at-risk students. Assistant Superintendant for Elementary Education Kitty Ryan said that class size would not be significantly affected by the change and Bridges said that the district would adhere to the range of appropriate class sizes already in place.
Weeks indicated that email he was receiving was about split on the desire to implement all-day kindergarten.
Board member Terry Fielden said that was not the input he was getting from parents.
“They want us to get going with it,” he said of the feedback he received. “All-day kindergarten certainly helps with at-risk students.”
Board Vice President Jackie Romberg stressed that input received from district teachers indicated they were overwhelmingly in favor of the plan.
Parent Kristen Fitzgerald said during public comment that “research clearly supports the advantages of all-day kindergarten for at-risk students.”
Monica Lucibello is an Ellsworth parent and said afterwards the decision was “bittersweet.” She described the $300,000 to be invested in the school as a “half-measure,” and said that the school had previously lost rooms dedicated to music and computer learning.
Remodeling to accommodate all-day kindergarten means that Ellsworth would lose space for Project Idea, and reading and math programs, she said.
Ryan met with Lucibello after the vote and assured her and other concerned parents that the district was giving the problem a “great deal of thought…we’re not telling you there is a perfect solution now.”
But Ryan assured the parents that the district would work on a solution. She also said the kindergarten initiative is import.
“All-day kindergarten is critical,” she said.