Brookfield-LaGrange Park School District 95 is no longer considering all-day kindergarten. In a move that had been telegraphed for quite some time, the district and administration made it official on April 12, announcing that is no longer considering that option.
It just costs too much to build the necessary classroom space and to pay the teachers that would be necessary for all-day kindergarten and a referendum would be needed to pay for it, officials said.
The district and the school board have been studying all-day kindergarten for the past eight months. Financial modeling indicates that the district cannot afford all-day kindergarten without a tax increase.
“It was clear that the financial stability of the district would be gravely hindered in the year 2015,” said District 95 Superintendent Mark Kuzniewski. “At this time it would not be prudent to continue to explore all-day kindergarten.”
John LaBarbera, the chairman of the school board’s curriculum committee, agreed.
“What is very clear is that if we are to accomplish this goal it would require a tax initiative,” LaBarbera said. “Without that, the district just doesn’t have the finances to implement the program.”
It would cost $3 million to build space for all-day kindergarten, Kuzniewski said.
Research studies also indicate that the positive academic effects of all-day kindergarten wear off pretty quickly, he said.
“We did not believe, based on the academic research, that there would be significant academic impact of all-day kindergarten past the third grade,” Kuzniewski said.
Some have said that all-day kindergarten was one of the promises made in the successful District 95 referendum campaign in 2006.
However, school board President James Landahl said that is not true.
“There was a little bit of misinformation that this was part of the 2006 referendum,” Landahl said.
At the April 12 meeting, Landahl read from a 2006 document that did not mention all-day kindergarten and instead said that the referendum’s object was to end the practice of borrowing to pay the district’s bills.
But Kris Gauger, who chaired the committee formed to promote the 2006 referendum and an advocate of all-day kindergarten, does not remember the referendum campaign quite the same way.
“All-day kindergarten was certainly one of the things that was floated,” Gauger said. “If it wasn’t directly tied to the referendum, I felt it would be put on the radar. And, you know what, if Jim wants to play that game I can dig up a copy of the district’s newsletter that’s sent to the entire community that had all-day kindergarten listed as a phase-three improvement.”
Gauger said that when she saw the addition at Brook Park School she pretty much knew that all-day kindergarten would not be happening any time soon in District 95.
“When they put that addition on, they pretty much made that decision then,” Gauger said. “It doesn’t surprise me, but it upsets me because I feel the community wasn’t really consulted before these things happen.”