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updated: 2/23/2012 3:47 PM

Dist. 200 predicts budget surplus for all-day kindergarten program

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Wheaton Warrenville Unit District 200's inaugural all-day kindergarten program will finish its first year with a budget surplus of nearly $35,000, officials said.

Officials on Wednesday estimated the district will spend $296,423 on the program this school year and receive tuition payments of $331,400.

"We were cautious," Superintendent Brian Harris said. "We were conservative on our estimations to make sure we had our costs covered."

The district initially planned to offer its all-day program on a first-come, first-served basis in 13 schools with an even mix of tuition-based students -- whose parents would pay as much as $4,000 a year -- and grant-funded students. The intent was to have the program pay for itself.

Currently, the full-day program is available in nine schools with 75 tuition-based students and 119 students who qualify for free or reduced lunches. The maximum class size is 24 students.

While 696 kindergarten students have half-days of school, Harris said financial and space limitations prevent the district from offering all-day to every student in the near future.

Although both the full-day and half-day programs have similar curriculum, Harris said the extra time devoted to subjects appeals to many parents.

"What we're able to do in the full-day is go more in depth with a particular target like teaching fluency or letters or sound," Harris said. "There's a deeper understanding."

Faith Dahlquist, assistant superintendent for educational services, said she's not concerned about future space issues involving the program.

"There were some schools where there were not enough parents interested to be able to have 20 students in an all-day kindergarten," Dahlquist said. "I am not really concerned unless we have a dramatic change in interest where we would not have space to offer full-day kindergarten to all of the schools that want it."

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