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Survey: Parents Love the Idea of All-Day Kindergarten, But Not the Cost

Committee recommends bringing a full-day program to Valley View, but finding funding sources to take the burden off parents.

parents and community members are overwhelmingly in support of a plan to bring full-day kindergarten to the district. What they aren’t so happy about is a proposed $150 per month fee, according to survey findings presented by members of a committee tasked with exploring the logistics of making the program a reality.

In May, the district asked residents to complete a survey aimed at gauging community interest in all-day kindergarten. According to the committee, 2,259 people responded to the survey, with 85 percent saying it would be a good idea for Valley View to offer the program.

However, 66 percent said a $150 fee would be too pricey. That didn’t seem to come as a surprise to committee members, who shared research with the board of education Monday showing that most Illinois unit school districts that offer full-day kindergarten charge only a one-time registration fee, with just 12 percent imposing a monthly fee.

In the end, the committee’s recommendation to the board was twofold: That the district offer full-day kindergarten as an option for all students, and that it be more affordable or, if possible, available at no additional cost to parents.

Superintendent James Mitchem, presiding over his first board meeting since taking the reigns from retiring Superintendent Phillip Schoffstall, cited research showing that children who attend full-day kindergarten have an academic advantage over those who do not. The program could help close the achievement gap during the critical first few years of school, saving the district money on interventions for struggling students as they get older, Mitchem said.

“Obviously, the costs associated with this would be great,” Mitchem said. But the program would be part of Mitchem’s efforts to shift district resources toward grades K-3, helping students with achievement delays early on in their academic careers rather than later.

Committee members noted that the survey is just the first step in exploring all-day kindergarten. Next, the group will begin looking into logistics including finding a site equipped to handle a full-day program, staffing and funding.

Possibilities under consideration include housing the program at existing elementary campuses, creating an early childhood/kindergarten center or renting a local storefront. Funding options range from reallocating existing resources, pursuing grants or title funding and cutting costs by offering summer school online rather than in a classroom, according the committee.

“Clearly, we have a long way to go,” Mitchem said. “It’s really just an exploratory project at this point.”

Board members seemed to agree full-day kindergarten should be part of Valley View’s future.

“It’s definitely needed,” board member Liz Campbell said. Jim Curran, noting that he sent all three of his own children to all-day kindergarten, agreed.

“I think it’s worth it,” he said.

Board vice president Rick Gougis noted that, aside from academic benefits, full-day kindergarten could help single and working parents who struggle to find child care for students enrolled in a half-day program.

“What we do now is difficult,” he said. “I think that’s the driver for some of the enrollment numbers at [private kindergartens].”

Moving forward

The next step for the all-day kindergarten committee is to bring Assistant Superintendent for Administrative Services Gary Grizaffi on board to explore the costs associated with the program. The committee is also looking to recruit parents, community members and private school representatives to help continue its work.

If the district does add a full-day option, that doesn’t mean its current kindergarten program will disappear. In Illinois, school districts that offer full-day kindergarten must continue to offer a half-day program as an alternative for parents who do not wish to send their kindergartners to school full time.

Mitchem said while the committee’s goal is to launch full-day kindergarten at the end of next school year, it could take longer to get all the pieces in place for such a large undertaking.

“The sooner we get this in place, the better,” he said, noting the committee hopes to be able to present a plan for implementation to the board within the next 90 days.

Survey says

Here’s how residents responded to the full-day kindergarten survey:

1. Valley View School District is considering offering an all-day kindergarten program. Is this a good idea?

Yes: 85 percent; No: 15 percent

2. If interested, would you be willing to pay approximately $150 per month for your child to attend?

Yes: 34 percent; No: 66 percent

3. If you answered "No" to the previous question, is it due to:

Cost: 73 percent; Only want half-day option: 14 percent; Other: 13 percent

4. If the all-day kindergarten program is not offered at each school site, would you be willing to have your child transported to another school site at no cost to you?

Yes: 66 percent; No: 35 percent

5. Do you have a child who will enter kindergarten in:

  • 2011-12: 16 percent
  • 2012-13: 19 percent
  • 2013-14: 15 percent
  • 2014-15: 7 percent
  • None: 46 percent
romeorobin July 15, 2011 at 08:13 PM
I think that $150 / month is nothing compared to the costs of daycare. We are not fortunate enough to have a stay at home parent and consequently spend way more than that amount each year on daycare. I would not be apposed to spending that money if it is going to help my child in the long run. Our district, state, and nation trail far behind in education and at this point we should be willing to try alternate options to increase our scores.
Concerned Parent July 15, 2011 at 10:38 PM
Your still going to have to pay for before & after school care. What are you going to do with the little kids from 7 - 9 am and from 3 pm - 5:30 pm? Suddenly put your kid from "no school" to 10 - 11 hours at the school. How about you foot the bill for your own childcare. Isn't $ 150 a month a steal in order for your child to get a great head start? how big will the classes be? Where will the classroom space come from? How many new teachers will be hired? what programs will be cut to fund all day kindergarten? lets start with HS sports and invest the money in the little children.
Rhonda R July 15, 2011 at 11:19 PM
Truth hurts, but lets look strictly at the numbers. To start an all-day kindergarten program will add more cost to the District. Unless the District is willing to cut in other areas of the budget, like HS sports, admin. salaries, etc. They will only be adding to the budget deficit. How can we embrace any new program without considering the cost to taxpayers first? Will the $150/mth per parent cover the cost for extra teachers, aides, classroom supplies, etc? I know all-day kindergarten sounds good, but lets look at the numbers first.
Rhonda R July 15, 2011 at 11:29 PM
Maybe the committee and board have crunched the numbers already. If so, it would be nice to see that information included in the article. (for the number geeks like myself) :)
D.A. April 17, 2012 at 02:36 PM
Ok...so u all are saying pay for your ChildCare....we also have to pay registration fees for the oyher children and the older they get the more expensive it gets. We have to pay book fees....THEY ONLY USE THE BOOKS...they turn them back in...do we get our money back? NO! Valley view nickles and dimes everyone for everything. It is ridiculous how much FREE PUBLIC SCHOOL is costing us a year already!!

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