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District 47 to offer all-day kindergarten in 2013-14

CRYSTAL LAKE – All-day kindergarten is coming to District 47 next year.

On a 5-1 vote, school board members approved the fee-based program for the 2013-14 school year.

Full-day kindergarten will be offered at all District 47 schools, and half-day curriculum still will be offered to parents who choose it.

Parents who opt for a full-day kindergarten will pay a fee for all-day schooling, but waivers will be offered to parents who can’t afford it. The fees will be set after a financial review early next year, but will not exceed $170 a month per child.

“It is certainly the interest of the board and the administration to look for ways to reduce that,” board President Jeff Mason said.

Board member Nancy Gonsiorek was the only no vote. Board member Rob Routzahn was absent. Gonsiorek said after the meeting that she couldn’t justify supporting the program that will cost $5.5 million over five years.

“That’s a lot of money in uncertain times,” she said, adding that she also didn’t agree with the decision to charge for the full-day option.

One person spoke at the meeting and asked the board to say no to all-day kindergarten.

“It will fill more classrooms and make it more difficult to close a school, which is key to reducing District 47 costs,” Crystal Lake resident Randy Kiel said.

District officials have considered closing a school because of declining enrollment. Kindergarten enrollment has remained at 700 students for the past two years, and administrators expect the same in the 2013-14 school year.

All-day kindergarten schedule will align with other grades and will be offered in the district’s dual-language program. Kindergartners in the full-day program will be served lunch and have recess.

“Full-day kindergarten is not going to be just an extra first grade,” said Jean Bevevino, the district’s assistant superintendent of curriculum, instruction and assessment.

Administrators have said the program will better prepare students for more rigorous educational standards introduced by the state.

Several others who spoke at Tuesday’s meeting were in favor of all-day kindergarten.

“For my children, it would be a good away to prepare them academically and socially,” said Rose Rankin, a parent with a soon-to-be kindergartner.

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