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posted: 3/5/2013 3:03 PM

All-day kindergarten on track for fall in Naperville Dist. 203

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Editor's note: This story has been edited to clarify statements made by Kitty Ryan regarding placement of half-day kindergarten students.

By Justin Kmitch

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Enrollment has begun and curriculum is being developed on schedule as Naperville Unit District 203 prepares to unveil the first phase of all-day kindergarten in the fall.

Administrators said Monday that enrollment is nearly halfway completed and that the math curriculum is complete and will be followed shortly by the reading curriculum.

Board members approved a plan in January that will have the district offering all-day kindergarten in the seven lowest performing of the district's 14 elementary schools.

The Title 1 schools, which get money from the federal government to help students who are behind academically or at risk of falling behind, are Beebe, Ellsworth, Elmwood, Mill, Naper, River Woods and Scott.

Kitty Ryan, assistant superintendent for elementary education, said Monday that with enrollment "rolling right along," parents are being asked to decide by March 15 whether they want their children in all-day or half-day kindergarten.

"We're pushing for early enrollment in kindergarten. We're projecting about 1,000 students next year, and of those 1,000 we're projecting 560 will be enrolled in all day kindergarten sites," Ryan said. "Of those 560, we have 240 enrolled, so we're about halfway there."

The plan, she said, is to monitor the enrollment at each school.

"If we have a small class of about 25 (in half-day kindergarten), we would enroll those students in the nearest school that has room for them, rather than set up a very small classroom for those students enrolling in half-day kindergarten," she said. "If we have a full class, we would set up a separate class room for those students (at a school that has space which may or may not be their home school)."

Once the classrooms are decided, teachers will have to instruct the learning that happens in them. Jen Hester, associate superintendent for learning services, says that work has also already begun.

"Our math curriculum is now fully upgraded to the common core and the teachers are now receiving professional learning and using their resources to teach the curriculum," Hester said. "The teachers are reviewing resources for reading instruction, writing and word study and a small committee of teachers has reviewed the social and emotional learning standards. We're on schedule for implantation."

The district's half-day kindergarten program currently has 796 at 14 elementary schools.

Startup costs for the program this year are projected to be about $380,000 while total costs in 2013-14 would be about $928,000. To implement the program in all schools would cost the district about $1.3 million after about $820,000 in payouts from the state.

A majority of the costs are inked to the necessary $300,000 renovation to Ellsworth this summer and a $1 million addition needed at Naper in the summer of 2014.

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