July 14, 2008

Clinton Schools Expanding to Full-Day Kindergarten

By Kevin Barlow, The Pantagraph, Bloomington, Ill.

Jul. 14--CLINTON -- For the first time in its history, the Clinton School District will offer full-day kindergarten this fall and officials say they are busy preparing for the new program.

There will be five kindergarten sections at Washington Elementary and three more at Douglas Elementary. In the past, only half-day kindergarten was available.

"From our viewpoint, we think it's a great situation for everyone," Superintendent Jeff Holmes said. "This gives our students an additional half year of education. The instructional time goes from 45 minutes to 190 minutes daily. This allows our teachers to further develop basic literary skills along with an expansion of the math curriculum."

Holmes said planning has gone smoothly, thanks in part to a committee of school personnel and parents.

"We haven't really had any major bumps in the road yet," Holmes said. "We know there will be some, but there are always bumps in the road at the start of school anyway. We think we are in good shape, though, because we have ordered the additional tables, desks and teaching materials we need. So, now, we look forward to the final registration process and getting started."

Students are not required to attend full-day kindergarten. By law, the district has to offer a half-day program as well. Registration for elementary schools in the Clinton School District begins Aug. 14. High school and junior high school registration begins one day earlier. Book rental for kindergarten students is $48 per child.

"The biggest question about the program that we have been answering has to do with the all-day kindergarten," Holmes said. "The half-day option is still there and we would encourage parents to look at both and enroll in the program that makes the most sense to that family."

Elementary Principal Linda Ruhl was among those on the feasibility committee and told the school board the students will benefit both in the short term and long term. A survey revealed that all surrounding districts offer full-day kindergarten.

"We should see higher scores on standardized tests, a higher level of productivity, more class room involvement, and more social interaction among the students," she said.


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