By Jeff Gallatin
The North Olmsted School District school board unanimously approved at the March 7 work session implementing all-day kindergarten for the 2013-2014 school year. It also approved not charging students and their families for the program. The approval came after interim Superintendent Terry Krivak and other district officials made a presentation about how all-day kindergarten programs provide more educational benefits for students.
Afterward, Krivak said approving an all-day session will be a major step forward for the district.
‘They (all-day kindergarten classes) are much more effective for the students and provide strong benefits for the districts which have them,” he said. “And with the new educational mandates and standards coming down from the state, they will aid us.”
Krivak said the district already has the physical facilities to handle an all-day kindergarten program. He said initial figures show it will cost the district about $600,000 to implement it in time for next year. He said five additional teachers will be needed to fully staff the fledgling program.
“It’s an investment in our students, the district and the community,” he said afterward. “It will help put in place a foundation which will help us maintain the level of excellence which has been attained here and which is expected to be achieved.”
Krivak and board members noted that not charging for the kindergarten is practical for the district.
“We have a lot of families who would not be able to pay for it if we charged a fee,” he said.
Krivak said most of the districts that charge for all-day kindergarten are ones that are in stronger positions financially and have more families that can afford to pay for it.
Board member Linda Cleary said having the district pay for the program is a worthy cost for the district.
“Paying for a program which advances our students’ education is always a good cause,” she said.
Board President John Lasko noted he was an advocate of all-day kindergarten when he ran his first campaign for the school board nearly a decade ago.
“It’s something which has been a point of discussion for a long time through many changes down in Columbus as well as in districts throughout the state,” he said. “But it’s something which I believe should be done.”
During the presentation to the board, Krivak and other district administrators and teachers made a series of remarks backing Krivak’s contention that having all-day kindergarten benefits children both in the short and long terms. They indicated that new state standards, such as the third-grade reading guarantee – which requires third-graders to meet a certain level of proficiency or not advance to the fourth grade – means the district will have to work even harder to meet those standards and keep student achievement at a high level. The officials noted that the all-day kindergarten program will better help the district prepare students to pass that test.
The officials noted that based on current information, some students would not pass the test if it were given this year. However, the officials and teachers noted that new programs are being put in place to better prepare the students for the new program.
“We’re not just sitting by,” Krivak said afterward. “This district has a strong history of adjusting and meeting standards to make sure the students get as strong an education as possible.”