Tuesday, June 18, 2002

Panel backs all-day kindergarten option

By Sue Kiesewetter
Enquirer contributor

        FAIRFIELD — Parents in the Fairfield City Schools should be able to decide whether to send their children to an all-day kindergarten if the district starts one, a committee says.

        For the past several months the group of teachers, administrators and parents has been studying what it would take to begin an all-day kindergarten, including cost, space requirements and other factors.

        “I didn't come in with any preconceived ideas,” said Deanna Taylor, a parent who sat on the committee. “I'm interested in (all-day kindergarten), but I don't have my heart set on it either.”

        Research the group reviewed was overwhelmingly in favor of all-day kindergarten, said Debra Robles, a kindergarten teacher and committee member. But some studies suggested kids who were prepared for kindergarten didn't benefit as much from all-day classes as those students who were behind their peers or were poorly prepared, Ms. Robles said during a presentation to the Fairfield school board.

        Only 15 percent of Ohio's kindergarten classes are full-day, and a majority of those are in larger cities, said Becky Hauer, a kindergarten teacher.

        Results of a survey sent to 1,509 parents whose children were enrolled in district preschool programs were split. About 60 percent of the 533 respondents favored a full-day program, and 36 percent favored half-day. Four percent were undecided, Ms. Taylor said.

        The committee presented the board with two options. The first would provide all-day kindergarten for everyone, with the half-day program available. Under the second option, each elementary school would have two all-day kindergarten classes, with half-day sessions at the kindergarten center.

        Each option would mean extra teachers, furniture and equipment as well as additional busing. Preliminary cost estimates for the first option could go as high as $1 million, and $235,000 for the second.

        “This is the first time we have had an organized, systematic way to look at (all-day kindergarten),” said Anne Crone, president of the Fairfield Board of Education. “We have to put a better dollar figure to see if we want to do it.”


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