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posted: 3/12/2010 12:01 AM

Batavia full-day kindergarten is now 'enrichment'

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What was full-day kindergarten in Batavia is no more.

But kindergarten students can still get a full day of learning in the fall, by attending "kindergarten enrichment" after their regular class.

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The school board formally eliminated full-day kindergarten this week. The move came as part of a proposal to charge $250 a month for full-day kindergarten. The district has to offer everybody half-day kindergarten, at no charge. This year, as many as 276 of the district's 476 kindergartners have attended school all day.

Full-day kindergarten started in 2001, and was supported by state funding. That has dwindled over the years, and as the school district looks for ways to run in the black, the extra kindergarten time was identified. It took the cost of the teachers presently running the program and divided it by the number of students enrolled to come up with the $250 fee.

The enrichment program will cost $250 a month.

Kindergarten registration is under way and the deadline to sign up for enrichment is March 19. The district Thursday afternoon did not have numbers for how many have signed up thus far.

The district has room for 288 children in a full-day program. Students who have educational, developmental or social needs that require a full day of attention will get first option. If needed, lotteries will be held for the remaining spaces at the individual schools.

Superintendent Jack Barshinger said changing the program to kindergarten enrichment "was done in response to parents' concerns about what is going on in dual programs," when asked what the difference was.

A Frequently Asked Questions document on the district's Web site says that children in the enrichment program will have the same teacher in the afternoon as they do in the regular kindergarten class, and that the curriculum will be identical. "The after-school enrichment time will not contain any new concepts. It is a time for practice and enrichment," the document states.

However, if a child drops out of the enrichment program, they will be reassigned to another kindergarten class. And students would only be able to join kindergarten enrichment midyear at the discretion of the school principals.

Meanwhile, the district has drawn criticism from Buffalo Grove resident Rob Sherman, who believes the monthly fee violates the Illinois constitution's provision that public education is to be free, and an Illinois Supreme Court ruling that schools only have the right to charge for materials, not for instruction. He spoke to the Batavia school board Tuesday, and has written about it on his Web site, robsherman.com.

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