Officials say option will expose youngest students to more class structure, academic preparation
The Northern Ozaukee School Board voted Monday to make a full-day option available next year for children in 4-year-old kindergarten.
The expanded kindergarten program will be available for the 2015-16 school year.
Supt. Blake Peuse said the full-day 4K program will better prepare children to achieve throughout their school years.
“We have continually spoken as a district about how the level of expectation for all students has increased over the last number of years and these expectations are increasing from 4K to 12th grade for all our student population,” Peuse said.
That rationale was used when the district adopted a full-day 5K program several years ago.
“We have seen this switch pay dividends by helping our students become more ready, both academically and socially, for the more rigorous expectations that have been placed upon our students in the succeeding grades,” the superintendent said.
District officials said there are 14 school districts around the state that offer full-day 4K programs.
To gauge local willingness to accept a full-time 4K offering, parents of children in the current half-day program were surveyed. Of those surveyed, 87% said they would have chosen a full-day program if it had been available.
Parents of children who will be in 4K this fall were split about the new program, although there were only 10 responses.
Peuse said the full-day 4K would have a projected enrollment of between 40 and 44 students this fall. If that count can be increased by an additional five students, he said, incoming state aids would cover the cost of the program.
Districts receive 60% of full-time equivalent funding in state aid for students enrolled in 4K.
“At this point, I can’t say it would be 100% self-sufficient,” he said.
Peuse said no additional staffing would be needed for the expanded 4K, because slight declines are anticipated elsewhere in elementary school enrollment.
During discussions of the concept by the Student Learning and Achievement Committee, there was some concern that the full-day 4K might have a negative impact on local child-care providers.
“We feel, however, that the level of service and educational options will be commensurate to or above the services that our youngest of students currently receive,” Peuse said.
“Our intention is not to drive any students away from private or parochial schools or daycare providers. Our intention is to offer a highly structured, age-appropriate educational program that meets our students’ physical, intellectual, emotional and social needs.”
Realizing younger students might not be ready for a full day of classroom activity, tentative daily schedules include two bathroom and snack breaks, two recess periods, along with an hour of free play and rest time.
The daily structure will include shared reading, math and literacy workshops, along with music and movement time.
The board approved the full-time 4K, with the provision that it be open for annual review.
Board member Rick Hamm cast the only vote against initiating the program.