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updated: 2/11/2014 6:49 AM

Dist. 304 to offer full-day kindergarten

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District 304 in Geneva will offer all-day kindergarten starting this fall.

The school board approved it 6-1 Monday night.

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Under state law, the district will still have to offer half-day kindergarten, and it would be conducted in the morning. Monday's resolution did not specify whether half-day would be offered at every school or at a central location.

If students attend half-day, their parents or guardians will have to pick them up at the end of the session because midday busing will be dropped.

Dave Lamb, who voted against the proposal, said he thought spending money on full-day kindergarten was a good investment for the community. But he worries that half-day kindergartners won't get the same experiences they do now in noncore subjects, he said. If full- and half-day students are combined in the classroom, it may be that the mornings would be spent on reading, writing and mathematics, and topics such as physical education, music and art would be in the afternoon.

"That may happen. I can't make promises on that," Superintendent Kent Mutchler said.

"That's the challenge for me," Lamb replied.

Board member Kelly Nowak said she favors having a centralized half-day classroom for that reason. "I don't think they should have to accept a program (that is) anything less than what we have now," she said.

Several addressed some studies that showed that by third grade, the test results of students who attended a half day were the same as those who attended a full day of kindergarten. One of the studies was published in 2002 and was updated in 2011.

Board member Mary Stith said there is updated data on the results of full-day kindergarten, including research on why the achievements match by third grade. Factors may include interventions in the first and second grades for the half-day kindergartners, according to school officials.

"I will be eager to see the data for one year, two years, three years," said board member Bill Wilson.

Lamb also said he wants student performance data tracked and reported to the board, as well as the costs involved.

Kindergarten enrollment is from 4 to 7 p.m. March 4 at the elementary schools. Forms are available at geneva304.org.

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