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East Aurora committee to look at full-day kindergarten curriculum

Updated: December 6, 2013 6:29AM

AURORA — East Aurora School District has formed a nine-member committee to study what curriculum should be taught to the kindergarteners who will attend the district’s new full-day program next fall.

That committee will be made up of five kindergarten teachers, the district’s director of elementary education, the assistant principal from Brady Elementary, the assistant principal of the Child Service Center — where preschool is taught — and the principal at Oak Park Elementary, which has the largest early childhood program among the district’s elementary schools.

Members of the committee will look at the best ways to develop and expand the kindergarten day from the current two hours and 55 minutes to the same six-and-a-half-hour schedule that other elementary grades follow. They’ll also discuss staffing needs for the new program, which is optional for students to attend.

The state requires districts to continue to offer half-day kindergarten as an option to parents who want it.

The committee also will issue a recommendation to the School Board about how the district should determine which students go to the new kindergarten center and which students remain at their local schools.

The committee will meet for the first time on Nov. 14, then again on Nov. 21, and monthly thereafter.

The district also has contracted the services of education consultant Catherine Mundsinger, a retired Oswego 308 administrator who helped that district implement a full-day kindergarten program.

Mundsinger will share insights from her experience at Oswego and help East Aurora to anticipate issues of starting up a new program. Oswego opened up full-day kindergarten as an option for all its students in 2011.

Mundsinger is the co-author of a Northern Illinois University three-year study of full-day kindergarten at Oswego that showed kindergarten students in the full-day program scored higher than their counterparts in the half-day program and that full-day kindergarten was preferred by a majority of parents.

East Aurora administrators also have visited the East View Kindergarten Center in Oswego as part of their work.

East Aurora officials are in the process of scouting a building that will become a centrally located kindergarten facility. They hope to know which site they will choose by the end of the month.

East Aurora expects to provide transportation to students who attend school at the new facility, though parents can opt to provide their own transportation.

The estimated cost to buy and rehab a facility is $8 million, which is being paid for with district reserves. Some of that cost will be offset by new state funding.

The district estimates it could take in anywhere from $1.5 million more a year, if half of all kindergarten students participated in a full-day program, to $3.6 million per year, if all participated.

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