“We could completely change the program, take what we have and expand or any number of options. The most important part is we want to hear from the parents. We want all the input we can get and what works best for the families in the district.”

– Delavan-Darien School District Superintendent Robert Crist

 Parents’ opinions and suggestions sought

By Alexandrea Dahlstrom

SLN STAFF

The Delavan-Darien School District is considering partnering with Delavan preschools to offer 4-year-old kindergarten at additional locations and five days a week.

Superintendent Robert Crist and PreSchool for Creative Learning Program Director Becky Hayford held an informational meeting Jan. 29 at Wileman Elementary School for parents of 4K students or students who will enter 4K in the fall.

The district offers 4-year-old kindergarten at its three elementary schools – Wileman, Darien and Turtle Creek – from 8:15 a.m. to 3:15 p.m. two days a week and one Wednesday a month.

The district is considering offering 4-year-old kindergarten five days a week from 8:15 to 11:15 a.m. and offering the program at the PreSchool for Creative Learning, 1545 Hobbs Drive, and the Delavan Nursery Center-Preschool, 115 S. Seventh St.

By offering the program at the daycare centers, parents who need their children in a full-day program could take advantage of “wrap-around” care – childcare before and after the school day.

“Children that come to the preschool for 4K can also be part of the daycare program. Many of the children already are enrolled here. They can come before 4K and stay after for childcare,” Hayford said.

Hayford said transportation will be provided for the 4K program, but parents would have to provide their own transportation for any before- or after-school care.

Crist said the district is looking to give parents options and has made no decisions on any changes yet.

“We could completely change the program, take what we have and expand or any number of options,” Crist said. “The most important part is we want to hear from the parents. We want all the input we can get and what works best for the families in the district.”

Susan Lefel, representing the Delavan Nursery Center at St. Andrew Parish School, said while the center has not officially signed on, the school is also open to the possibility of offering the district’s 4K program and wraparound childcare.

Crist said all the 4K programs regardless of their location would follow the same curriculum and be taught by district teachers.

 Consistency

Crist said one reason for the potential change is that studies show that a consistent schedule is proven best for pre-kindergarten children. Instead of two full days with several days between, a shorter day is more often beneficial, he said.      Hayford and Crist said the consistency of daily schooling is shown to improve learning retention and socialization for children.

Several parents at the meeting expressed concerns about location, transportation and scheduling. One parent said busses will run more often and asked what the cost would be to taxpayers and the environment. Crist said costs and transportation are among items the district will examine.

 Pilot program

The PreSchool for Creative Learning will offer a pilot program for 4K students beginning in March. The program will be a trial run to see how a five-day-a-week 4K program would work. Crist said it will give the district a chance to work out any kinks and to learn what would and would not work.

Parents interested in signing their children up for the pilot program can do so by visiting the district’s website. The program will accept 12 to 15 4-year-olds. If all goes well, the district expects to implement the program districtwide in the 2013-14 school year.

Two parents at the meeting said they are concerned about security at the daycare centers where 4K would be offered and said they would consider sending their children to schools outside the district if security remains a concern.

Crist said the district is considering options to keep children in the district and prevent losing them to open enrollment – the option of sending children to any school regardless of the district they live in.

“We want our Delavan families to stay in Delavan and get the most out of our programs,” said Crist.

Hayford said the PreSchool for Creative Learning is also looking for more options for families and to achieve the consistent scheduling that research shows is best.

“Other districts do this model and it’s been very successful,” she said. “Families like the options.”       For more information about the proposed new 4K program, parents and residents can call Hayford at 728-3881 or Crist at 728-2642 Ext. 4806.

 

 
 

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