District 64 officials exploring full-day kindergarten options

  • Park Ridge-Niles School District 64 Superintendent Eric Olson

    Park Ridge-Niles School District 64 Superintendent Eric Olson

 
 
Updated 7/5/2021 3:41 PM

A survey about full-day kindergarten options may soon be headed to Park Ridge-Niles Elementary School District 64 residents.

The proposed poll is part of an exploration into whether the district should offer full-day kindergarten classes at all, one or none of its elementary campuses.

 

The board and administrators will discuss the progress of the inquiry in a special meeting at 5:30 p.m. Wednesday, at Emerson Middle School, 8101 N. Cumberland Ave., Niles.

You can watch the meeting live at youtube.com/watch?v=nidY84EDfHU.

Six of District 64's eight schools offer kindergarten classes. One campus, Jefferson School, houses an early childhood program and an extended day kindergarten program.

District 64 launched a kindergarten exploration committee earlier this year. That led to a community survey that revealed the majority of respondents favored full-day kindergarten in some format, officials have said.

At a board meeting last month, Superintendent Eric Olson said the board has three options: offering full-day kindergarten at all the elementary schools, offering full-day kindergarten only at Jefferson School or leaving the program the way it is.

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The district would still offer a half-day option if full-day kindergarten becomes available, as required by the state, officials said.

Jefferson School could receive facility upgrades and the district headquarters could move to Jefferson as part of the project, officials said.

The necessary construction work and program relocations could cost up to $25 million, officials said.

No plan has been approved.

Officials said the district likely would borrow money and would increase the district's property tax rate to fund the project.

Following a long discussion at their June 24 meeting, board members directed Olson to prepare a proposal for a new community survey that would ask residents which kindergarten option they prefer.

At that same meeting, the board voted 4-3 against a proposal from Trustee Garreth Kennedy to direct Olson to prepare for a binding referendum regarding full-day kindergarten classes.

"I think we owe it to the taxpayers," Kennedy said.

The majority disagreed, however, citing the current opportunity for loans with low interest rates and other factors. Others noted most other Illinois districts already offer all-day kindergarten.

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