Dist. 54: Preschool, kindergarten changes a hit
Parents have overwhelmingly embraced Schaumburg Township Elementary District 54's year-old Early Learning Center and month-old full-day kindergarten program, according to a staff report heard by the school board Monday night.
The Early Learning Center, which opened next to the district's administration building in Schaumburg in August 2014, ended last school year with 771 students -- 70 more than when its programs had been spread among multiple schools across the district a year earlier.
And largely as expected, among the district's 1,527 kindergartners this school year, all but three are taking advantage of the new full-day option. These three still learn basic reading and math with their peers in the morning.
The chief goal shared by both the Early Learning Center and full-day kindergarten program is to help every student of the district to be at grade-level in reading and math by the time they enter the third grade.
The Early Learning Center's programs for preschoolers are divided between special education and those for children at risk of academic failure.
Among the determinants for the latter category are low-income, single-parent or multilingual households as well as having a sibling with special needs or an incarcerated parent.
Enrollment fluctuates significantly throughout the year, with students in need of such help becoming eligible as soon as they turn 3 years old.
Last year, the center opened with 527 students but had nearly 250 more by the end of the same school year.
The Early Learning Center currently has 568 students, already up by 15 from the start of the new school year.
Administrators said both students and teachers in the new full-day kindergarten have embraced "the gift of time" by incorporating such new instruction as a half-hour dedicated to writing.
An example was shown of the stunning difference between one student's ability to write even his name in August and September.
"To me, it's so impressive what we're doing for kids," said Board Member Karen Strykowski, adding she was often disappointed by how little was accomplished in her own child's half-day kindergarten classes 20 years ago.