After years of talks, District 64 approves plan for full-day kindergarten
After years of discussions and delays, the Park Ridge-Niles School District 64 board on Thursday voted to offer full-day kindergarten classes at all five of the district's elementary schools and to renovate a different building.
Officials hope all-day kindergarten will be available to families starting in the 2022-23 school year.
"This is the right time," board member Rebecca Little said. "We need to stop kicking the can down the road and do it."
The construction work needed to make the plan a reality could cost $23.5 million to $25.9 million, officials have estimated.
The board hasn't determined how the work will be funded, but loans and a tax-rate increase are being considered, officials have said.
"There are still many steps still to go," Superintendent Eric Olson told the board Thursday.
The elementary schools now offer half-day kindergarten classes.
Olson had presented four options:
• Sticking with half-day kindergarten, renovating Jefferson School in Niles and moving the district headquarters there from the Hendee Educational Service Center in Park Ridge.
• Renovating Jefferson, moving the district offices there and turning the building into a full-day kindergarten center.
• Offering full-day kindergarten at all the elementary schools and renovating Jefferson.
• Offering full-day kindergarten at all the elementary schools, renovating Jefferson and moving the headquarters there.
That board went with the fourth option Thursday.
No board members voted against the plan, although Gareth Kennedy voted "present," citing objections to the proposal.
Board member Tom Sotos, who also has opposed the plan despite saying he favors all-day kindergarten, was absent.
Half-day kindergarten will remain an option, as required by the state.