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updated: 1/16/2014 11:12 AM

Geneva considering all-day kindergarten

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The Geneva school board is again considering whether to institute full-day kindergarten classes.

A committee this week recommended the district do so.

The district studied the matter in 2008, though it ended up not being considered due to the economic downturn and lack of space. Last year the district assigned a committee to re-examine the issue.

The committee's report noted that since 2008, the district has added an elementary school building, so there is space for full-day kindergartens. It also reported that neighboring and nearby districts have full-day kindergarten or its equivalent.

The increased rigor of elementary school studies, and higher expectations of academic performance of kindergartners, also led the committee to consider full-day kindergarten a "prerequisite" -- not an extra -- for success. It compared state assessment standards from 1997 and 2010. The 1997 document for how well a kindergartner analyzes words, for example, is two sentences long. The 2010 Common Core standards for the same thing has 16 bullet points.

The increased concentration on academic skills, particularly in literacy, leaves little time in a half-day to work on developmental skills, or other subjects, the committee reported.

State law would require the district to continue to offer half-day kindergarten.

The committee presented three options to the board. The first was to make no changes.

The second was to offer a full day, at no extra cost to students. Full-day kindergartners would stay in their assigned attendance-area schools. Half-day kindergartners would be sent to one school.

The third was to offer a full day, with students paying for a half-day of optional "enrichment."

The committee estimated it would cost the district $342,650 more to offer full-day kindergarten, and $416,891 more to offer full-day and half-day. State law requires districts that offer full-day programs to also offer half-day kindergarten.

Most of the increased cost would come from doubling the teachers and assistants.

The full presentation is available at geneva304.org.

The board will discuss the report Jan. 27, and expects to vote on the matter Feb. 10. It is urging residents to make comments at the Jan. 27 meeting, or submit them to board@geneva304.org.

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