District 220 to offer full-day kindergarten in the fall
The Barrington Area Unit School District 220 board unanimously approved a plan Monday night to offer full-day kindergarten starting next school year.
Parents will now have four options when enrolling their children in kindergarten: the new full-day program, which will cost no more than $3,500; the Chinese Immersion program, which has 48 available spaces; the Spanish Dual-Language Learning program, which has 48 to 50 spaces; and the half-day kindergarten program.
"Our priority is the half-day program," Linda Klobucher, assistant superintendent of curriculum and instruction, said Monday.
"That is what the district offers and continues to be our priority."
Students in the full-day program will have an enhanced version of the half-day curriculum as well as gym class every day and music class and art class twice a week.
"This is a great option for parents. If you'd talk to Kindergarten teachers they'd tell you, it's really difficult doing all the things you need to do in a 2.5-hour window," said board member Wendy Farley before voting for the plan. "I don't think it is for every child, not even every child in my home, but it is a great option."
Irma Bates, the principal of Sunny Hill Elementary School in Carpentersville, said she supported the plan.
"It's an absolutely wonderful opportunity for our kids," Bates said after the board voted. "My PTO members are very excited by the opportunity for kids to just learn longer and grow."
Now the district's focus shifts to the program's execution, which starts in January with a series of meetings with parents. Registration begins in February.
Parents will have several weeks to decide which of the four options they'd like to enroll their young student in. After the applications are collected in March, the district will match students up with their programs.
Klobucher said if the demand for the alternate programs exceeds the available space, the district will conduct a lottery to choose which students get in.
She said the half-day program takes priority over the optional programs in terms of classroom space at the elementary schools.
Under the plan, the Chinese Immersion and Spanish Dual-Language Learning programs will be moved to the district's Early Learning Center at 40 E. Dundee Road in Barrington.
The full-day kindergarten plan changed several times since the staff first presented it to the board in early October, which board Vice President Penny Kazmier said showed the district's flexibility and ability to react to the public's input.
"I think this is a great example of us listening to the community," Kazmier said. "We had constant feedback from the community, and (the district staff) responded quickly with options for us."
One reason the district is able to offer full-day kindergarten now is because of the unused elementary school classrooms caused by declining enrollment.
Klobucher said staff will adjust the program in the event that the number of available classrooms changes.
No members of the public spoke at Monday's meeting about the plan.
Several board members said the feedback they've received from parents has been positive.