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posted: 1/31/2014 5:30 AM

Barrington school board discusses full-day kindergarten

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  • Kindergarten students move to "Dance Your Sillies Out" as teacher Tim Gapp plays guitar at North Barrington Elementary School in 2012. Barrington Unit District 220 is considering offering full-day kindergarten.

       Kindergarten students move to "Dance Your Sillies Out" as teacher Tim Gapp plays guitar at North Barrington Elementary School in 2012. Barrington Unit District 220 is considering offering full-day kindergarten.
    Gilbert R. Boucher II | Staff Photographer

 
 

The Barrington Unit District 220 leaders began discussions this week on offering full-day kindergarten for the students of parents who choose it.

While details are scarce at this early stage of the district's budget planning process, board members agreed that any full-day kindergarten would have to pay for itself, possibly through an additional tuition charge.

"According to our estimates it (full-day kindergarten) would cost roughly $1 million a year," board President Brian Battle said. "Assuming we don't recoup that from the parents."

The board discussed ways it could recoup that cost, including charging parents who opt in to the program a tuition similar to the cost of private kindergarten-equivalent programs in the area. Battle said other area kindergartens charge about $3,000 per student.

Several school board members argued in favor of finding a way to provide full-day kindergarten despite the budget challenges.

"We are in the 10 percent of schools that do not offer all-day kindergarten and it is embarrassing," board member Wendy Farley said. "It's been just pushed to the side year after year and I think it is something we need to look at doing right away.

"I think we are doing a disservice to our constituents by not offering it," she added.

Board member Chris Guyer agreed.

"Our half-day really isn't even a half-day," Guyer said. "I get the head-shakers, the parents who look at me and say 'What is this?' I mean it's just two and a half hours long. That's embarrassing to me, frankly."

One possible roadblock is a lack of available space in the district's elementary schools.

"We didn't offer this for a long time, not because we were being deadbeats or we didn't want to, physically it wasn't possible," board member Joe Ruffolo said. "Where do we put the kids if we run out of space?"

The board is beginning the process of putting together next school year's budget. The final budget will not be passed until September.

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