East Aurora looks at offering full-day kindergarten
By Kalyn Belsha email@example.com October 8, 2013 10:18AM
Oak Park Elementary kindergarten students Alejandro Chavez and Juan R. Gutierrez search for a book during class on Wednesday, Oct. 09, 2013. | Donnell Collins/For Sun-Times Media Donnell Collins
Updated: November 12, 2013 6:08AM
AURORA — If East Aurora School District were to offer full-day kindergarten, the district likely would need a separate facility, which could cost an estimated $8 million to build.
David Negron, the district’s director of elementary education, was tasked with analyzing space use in East Aurora’s buildings and found the district was 24 classrooms shy of what it would need to serve all 1,139 kindergarten students at once.
Right now, East Aurora has 691 students enrolled in morning kindergarten and 448 enrolled in the afternoon. Each set of students receives two hours and 55 minutes of instruction.
A move to a full-day program would put kindergarteners on the same six-and-a-half-hour schedule as other elementary grades: from 8:30 a.m. to 3 p.m.
In addition to the construction cost, a move to full-day kindergarten in a separate, centralized location would cost about $1.6 million a year for 29 additional teachers, Negron estimated.
On top of that cost would be a building administrator at around $95,000 a year, plus an average $300,000 per district building budget for support staff, which includes teachers assistants, secretaries and custodians.
But those personnel costs could be offset by the additional revenue the district would receive in state aid to serve students in a full-day program, Negron said.
He estimated the district would receive anywhere from $1.5 million, if half of all kindergarteners participated, to $3.6 million per year, if all participated.
In Illinois, school districts must offer at least half-day kindergarten, though it is not mandatory for students to attend. A school district that decides to offer full-day kindergarten still has to provide a half-day program.
Negron said full-day kindergarten has significant academic benefits and pointed to research that showed students in full-day kindergarten make greater gains in math and reading than those in a half-day program.
A longer kindergarten day especially can show long-term benefits for low-income and minority children, Negron said.
It would better prepare students for first grade, help students more quickly acclimate to a longer school day and give teachers time to plan and collaborate on lesson plans.
“We really need our kids to be on grade level as soon as possible,” Negron said. “We’re going to reap the benefits of that in the long run.”
With a longer day, children would get more time to study literacy and math, as well as help they aren’t getting now, such as social-emotional learning, motor skill work and physical education time.
The move also could benefit students with disabilities and English-language learners, Negron said, and help get more students reading at their grade level by second grade, a key year.
If students aren’t reading at grade level by then, it becomes “exponentially more difficult to catch them up,” Negron said.
Full-day kindergarten also could encourage more parents to enroll their children in preschool, Negron said, as a separate kindergarten facility would free up space for preschool in the existing buildings. Right now the district has a preschool waiting list of a couple hundred students, Negron said.
According to Negron’s research, several other districts near East Aurora offer full-day kindergarten, including West Aurora, St. Charles, Oswego, Indian Prairie, Plano and Sandwich.
Naperville School District 203 is in the process now of switching to an all-day kindergarten program.