Costs for implementing the program would approach $600,000, the superintendent told parents.
By PETER H. MILLIKEN
VINDICATOR STAFF WRITER
CANFIELD -- The inauguration of all-day kindergarten in the public schools here is probably at least a year and a half from becoming a reality and likely contingent on a new local levy's being passed, the school board president says.
Because of the lead time required for passage and revenue collection from such a levy, Dr. Mark Squicquero, board president, said the earliest realistic date for beginning all-day kindergarten would probably be September 2003.
"If we can do it, we'd love to do it. If there was demand in the community, we'd absolutely fall behind it. Covering the cost is our biggest hurdle," Dr. Squicquero said. Parents most likely would have a choice between half-day kindergarten, which is offered now, and full-day kindergarten for the first two years, giving the board an opportunity to phase in the all-day program, he said.
Dr. Squicquero made his remarks as he attended a Tuesday forum at C.H. Campbell Elementary School for parents concerning the issue.
Unlike urban school districts, whose conversion to all-day kindergarten has been mandated and funded by the Ohio Legislature, superintendent Douglas Hiscox said suburban districts, such as Canfield, must fund their own all-day kindergarten programs.
Benefits: Hiscox told the parents all-day kindergarten allows for extended lessons and social development opportunities that half-day sessions can't provide.
"It's not worth doing if you can't do it well,'' Hiscox said, adding that 20 or fewer pupils per teacher and larger classrooms are desirable if the district offers all-day kindergarten.
If funding would become immediately available, all-day kindergarten could be offered beginning this September, but the district, lacking enough classrooms of its own, would likely have to initially use off-premises classrooms for it, Hiscox said in response to a parent's question.
A conversion to all-day kindergarten would require adding seven more full-time kindergarten teachers to the current group of four kindergarten teachers and the hiring of new art, music and physical education teachers, he said. The 10 new teachers would cost almost $500,000 a year in pay and benefits, he said. Five additional classrooms would cost $12,000 each to furnish with an additional $3,000 to $4,000 each for supplies, he added.
These figures assume that kindergarten enrollment will grow from 160 to 240 to 250 as parents now sending their children to private all-day kindergartens begin sending them to all-day public school kindergarten, Hiscox said.