Wheeling Township District 21 moving toward full-day kindergarten by 2020-21

  • The Wheeling Township Elementary District 21 school board is expected to decide in August or September whether to implement a full-day kindergarten program for the 2020-21 school year. District administrators recommended the plan to the board last week.

      The Wheeling Township Elementary District 21 school board is expected to decide in August or September whether to implement a full-day kindergarten program for the 2020-21 school year. District administrators recommended the plan to the board last week. Christopher Placek | Staff Photographer, 2018

 
By Jennifer Shea
Daily Herald correspondent
Updated 5/20/2019 12:46 PM

Wheeling Township Elementary District 21 is moving closer to offering full-day kindergarten at all of its elementary schools, possibly as soon as the 2020-21 school year.

Administrators last week presented the board of education a formal recommendation that they authorize a full-day program districtwide.

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Currently three of District 21's elementary schools -- Field, Twain and Whitman schools -- offer full-day kindergarten. The remaining six have half-day programs.

The administration's proposal would add full-day kindergarten at those six elementary schools in the 2020-21 school year. Implementation would cost an estimated $5.3 million for the first year and $1.3 to $1.4 million annually in the following years.

"We want (kindergartners) here full-day, so I want to make sure that we do everything we can to encourage that," Superintendent Michael Connolly said.

In November, district voters approved a referendum to issue $69 million in bonds to fund facility upgrades at all 14 district buildings. Part of that money would fund the implementation of full-day kindergarten.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 

The district would create an additional 15 licensed teacher positions and renovate and update 29 classrooms to provide the full-day program, officials said.

Parents would still have the option to send their kids for half the day.

Connolly said the school board likely would make its final decision on the proposal at its August or September meeting.

In its report to the board, the administration noted that full-day kindergarten is associated with better educational outcomes. It has also been found to lead to greater self-confidence in students.

"For students coming out of that full-day program, they really do much better in later grades," Connolly said. "We want to make sure that we can expand that program to all of our elementary schools."

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