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updated: 3/5/2012 11:56 PM

Dist. 203 delays all-day kindergarten talks until fall

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With more questions than answers still lingering, Naperville Unit District 203 officials have put any decisions regarding all-day kindergarten on the back burner for several months.

Superintendent Mark Mitrovich presented the board with a financial solution that brought costs down from the previously estimated $7 million to less than $700,000, but he said the uncertainties related to general state aid and any pension reform's effect on the district budget make any decision on implementing all-day kindergarten too risky at this point.

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"Given that and given our desire to truly do the job we need to do with all-day kindergarten, it is my recommendation that any final decision on all-day kindergarten be delayed until this fall," he said. "By that time, we would have some sense of what the General Assembly has done to us, have some sense of what we are going to anticipate in terms of pension reform and to have some sense from the General Assembly as to what general state aid will be to the district."

A majority of board members agreed with the decision, saying they, too, want to have as much information as possible.

"We're not going to rush through this, and we're going to do it right," board President Mike Jaensch said. "Four months ago, no one was talking about all-day kindergarten. We've always been deliberate, and we've been thoughtful."

Board member Dave Weeks said he was pleased the board would not be making a decision "in a vacuum."

"For any of us to say we can make this decision and ignore the state is naive and irresponsible," he said. "We owe it to everyone here to do it and do it right."

Jim Dennison, joining the meeting via online video chat, said he felt good about the decision.

"We need to get more clarity about the facility usage and financial aspects of this," he said.

District administrators are calling for all-day kindergarten at all elementary schools beginning in fall 2013 in preparation for the upcoming common core standards the state has adopted.

While the board has made no formal decision to add an all-day kindergarten program, Mitrovich stressed his desire for the program and insisted 2013 is still the goal, despite pushing the vote back a few months.

"This in no way changes our commitment to all-day kindergarten. It is the prudent thing that we must do in order to be able to go into this program with eyes wide open," he said. "At this point, we can't do that. And we're not going to subject the district to a decision where we don't have the kind of data we would want to have."

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