District 95 preparing for full-day kindergarten in 2017-18

 
 
Updated 1/2/2017 4:56 PM
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  • Jodi Wirt, Lake Zurich Unit District 95's assistant superintendent of curriculum and instruction, said preparations are under way for the start of a full-day kindergarten program in 2017-18.

    Jodi Wirt, Lake Zurich Unit District 95's assistant superintendent of curriculum and instruction, said preparations are under way for the start of a full-day kindergarten program in 2017-18.

Lake Zurich Unit District 95 is about to make a push for enrollment in a full-day kindergarten program expected to start in the 2017-18 academic year.

Jodi Wirt, the district's assistant superintendent of curriculum and instruction, has outlined the final elements of the initiative that gained school board approval in March 2016.

Starting this month, District 95 fliers promoting the new kindergarten option will be provided to Lake Zurich-area preschools, Wirt said. Other early promotional efforts are to include mailing postcards to all district residents and installing banners touting the new program at all elementary schools.

Registration for the program is Feb. 2.

District 95 will join a growing list of suburban school systems offering full-day kindergarten programs. Other districts with programs include Round Lake Area Unit District 116, Gurnee-based Woodland Elementary District 50, Geneva Unit District 304 and Naperville-based Indian Prairie Unit District 204.

Under District 95's program, parents won't be charged extra to send children to the full-day program. Proponents say it should result in young students making accelerated progress in academic areas, such as literacy and mathematics. Parents would have the option of sending students to the district's half-day kindergarten program.

District 95 board President Doug Goldberg voiced excitement about the new kindergarten opportunity after a recent presentation by Wirt. He said he's heard from several young families who indicated a desire to move to the district because of the all-day kindergarten plan.

"I think this is another example of the great things that are happening around the district," Goldberg said.

Wirt said projections still show an additional five certified kindergarten teachers and at least one specialist would be needed to staff the all-day program. The initial cost is estimated at $330,000, based on the average salary and benefits for the instructors.

A formal recommendation for staffing is expected in March, she said.

In a report, a District 95 advisory committee found full-day kindergarten "affords the necessary time to better prepare students for the more rigorous curriculum now found at all grade levels." Disadvantages cited included the personnel costs and the readiness of kindergarten children to handle the time and challenges of a full-day program.

Under Illinois school code, full-day kindergarten must run a minimum of four hours. Half-day kindergarten is required to be a minimum two hours.

Schools must offer a half-day kindergarten options even if there is an all-day program, according to the state school code. District 95 plans to operate the full-day kindergarten from 8:35 a.m. to 2:50 p.m.

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