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updated: 3/12/2014 10:29 AM

Gavin Elementary District 37 considers creating all-day kindergarten program

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Gavin Elementary District 37 school officials will decide in the coming months whether to increase the length of a school day for kindergarten students, officials said.

Superintendent John Ahlmeyer said district administrators and board members are reviewing options involved in creating an all-day program for 80 kindergarten students starting in September.

Because of state requirements and changes in curriculum, it's becoming important for younger students to attend full-day kindergarten, Ahlmeyer said.

"It's important for students to reach a light reading level by the second grade," he said. "One of the best ways to make it happen is through all-day kindergarten."

Currently, the district holds four half-day kindergarten classes at Gavin South Junior High School on Route 134 in Ingleside, with two classes operating in the morning and two in the afternoon, he said.

If the change is approved, he said, students would take over four classrooms.

Declining enrollment at Gavin in recent years has made classroom space available, Ahlmeyer said. However, officials may have to shift students around to determine whether they would stay at Gavin South or move to Gavin Central on Route 59, he added.

"I think the half-day program has always has been too short," he said. "With the demands of curriculum on students, all-day kindergarten is the best way to prepare students for the future."

While the time those younger students would spend at school would be considered a full day, district leaders could elect to have kindergarten students be the last to arrive at their school and the first to be bused home, Ahlmeyer said.

"We would call it a full day, but those kids may come 30 minutes later and leave 30 minutes earlier than other students," he said. "Right now, we are the only Grant High School feeder school that doesn't have full-day kindergarten."

He said the details of bringing all-day kindergarten to District 37 are still being explored by administrators and the school board.

"It hasn't been approved yet, and we are still working on it," Ahlmeyer said. "We should have more information after spring break and into April."

The next District 37 school board meeting is scheduled for Tuesday, March 18, at 7 p.m. in the Gavin South Library.

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