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All-Day Kindergarten Becomes a Possibility

District 109 explores a potential early childhood center.

An early childhood center that would contain all kindergarten classes for Deerfield Public Schools District 109 students rather than house them at one of the Village’s four elementary schools has become a possibility.

That idea was one of the ideas discussed at a master plan facility community engagement meeting Monday at the District office. Approximately 30 members of the public attended, according to Communications Director Cathy Kedjidjian.

Earlier: Students Outshine Elders in 109 Superintendent Search Process

Should the early childhood center be developed it will open the possibility for STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) education for the District’s elementary school students, according to Kedjidian.

The process of reexamining the facilities at the District’s two middle school and four elementary schools began over a year ago and. Representatives from the different schools were told to “dream big” and give the architectural firm of Fanning Howey the opportunity to put as much of that dream into reality as possible.

The possibility of the early childhood center for preschool and kindergarten—both all day and half day—was a major topic. The likely site would be near South Park Elementary School where available land could be acquired through a trade with the Deerfield Park District.

“A half-day kindergarten would still be an option,” School Board President Ellen London said. “This will give us flexibility to have the room for STEM (in the exiting elementary schools).” Kedjidjian made it clear there is not enough space now to do that in the buildings.

Fanning Howey has been conducting a survey to gauge public opinion on issues like all-day kindergarten, an early childhood center and expanded STEM education. The survey will continue through the end of next week and be presented to the Board by the end of the month.

Preliminary results indicate 87 percent of those responding think an all-day kindergarten is a good idea but these is less agreement if that means the class will be in a central location. Though 53 percent said such a change does not affect them, 30 percent do not object to the single location and 13 percent are opposed.

More than 80 percent of those surveyed think STEM education is important with 53 percent considering it very important and 31 percent somewhat important.

According to Kedjidjian, survey results also indicate most people believe the physical facilities are in good shape but would like to see improved air quality, thermal comfort, traffic patterns and science facilities.

To better keep up with Deerfield news especially the superintendent search, follow Patch on Twitter and like us on Facebook.

John Russillo November 01, 2012 at 11:57 AM
The only problem with Ms. London's statement was that it wasn't backed up by the Superintendent. She said they would NOT be doing STEM in the elementary schools. The increased room sizes would be used for other purposes. Not really sure for what at this point. So, the question really becomes why are we building an early childhood center? The plan for the elementary schools really needs to be thought out alot more than this. Many details are yet to be considered including STEM curriculum which will drive the requirements for hardware, software, and classroom design.
ds November 01, 2012 at 12:58 PM
i would like more info in STEM as well as don't really support building anything new until the buildings we have are taken care of, ie the air conditioning etc.
John Russillo November 01, 2012 at 01:37 PM
My fear is continuing the trend of this administration of jumping into the latest educational fad (21st Century Skills, new Special Ed model, etc.) without understanding the total picture. I realize STEM is not a fad but if we implement it badly parents, teachers, and students will lose all confidence in the program.
Tom Bojarski November 01, 2012 at 01:45 PM
These are all important issues to be considered but disfuntion of our leadership and writhin the community proclude the district from providing youngest students with air conditioning This lack of commitment does not bode well for future improvement plans since the district and the board do not feel obligated what budgetary savings they are willing to implement to meet basic student needs without raising real estate taxes which are already highest in Chicagoland
RonnieTheLimoDriver November 01, 2012 at 01:54 PM
Woh, Woh, Woh, stop the clock. You are saying you would not support increasing educational opportunities for our students until after air conditioning? You have some seriously mixed up priorities. STEM is a requirement not a nice to have in today's world. All day kindergarden seems like a no brainer as well. Many other states already have it.
RonnieTheLimoDriver November 01, 2012 at 02:54 PM
Agree 100%. It is all about the implementation. I also think that having the right leadership team in place before we commit to any large programs is also critical.
DeerfieldResident November 01, 2012 at 02:57 PM
Definitely need more details on this. I share the concern about jumping into another 21st Century Skills disaster. Are DHS staff involved in this process? As a top-ranked high school, I'd love to hear from those teachers what they feel we need to focus on more in the feeder schools.
MSB November 01, 2012 at 04:45 PM
STEM is a necessity to keep our kids academically competitive and D109 on top - it is not an option. CONCERNS: 1) We don't know what the STEM curriculum looks like and what is required for space and facilities to be making these decisions at this time. 2) Again, it appears to be a TOP down approach from the administration and board; therefore community and staff input is required to get buy in. Previous funding and implementation failures are the result of this TOP down approach. Pros: COST EFFICIENT: Creating a new kindergarten space could free up space in the four grade schools for STEM classrooms/labs and more cost efficient than building addition space at each school or trying to cram it into the existing spaces. SPECIALIZED TEACHERS: Teachers with expertise in STEM could be hired to teach the STEM classes and the children could go to these classrooms/labs similar as they do for Art and Music FULL/PART-TIME Kindergarten could be offered rather than only Part-time. This would lessen the burden on working parents to find coverage for their children for half of the day. Additional early interventions could be offered with the extended day. Cons: Transitioning the kids from K to 1st would need to be thought through. Teachers, parents and kids need to be given time throughout the year to transition properly.
John Russillo November 01, 2012 at 08:36 PM
Good point. At least come April the new Board can take a fresh look at the plan and make changes if necessary. However, the hiring of the next Superintendent is something the next Board probably can't do anything about, so the decision will be made by at least 3 outgoing board members. That remains a concern.
RonnieTheLimoDriver November 01, 2012 at 10:46 PM
Good analysis. On the K topic, the logistics would also have to be thought through. How would the transportation/Busing be handled? Im also concerned about the transition from K to 1st in the scenario where the little ones were all kept separate and then all of the sudden had to integrate into a school with older kids. Instead of having 1 big change (pre to K) you now have 2.
Mara Meyer November 02, 2012 at 01:17 AM
No changes should be put into place until you have a new leadership team! That means 4 School Board members, Superintendent, Assistant Superintendent for Curriculum, and overseer of Special Education as well as weed out others who robotically have followed the educational whims of the previous administration (team). STEM is a process involving Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics. Deerfield High School is very well versed in this area. We also have some wonderful staff in 109 who could easily move into a role of collecting the information necessary to move in this direction. I just don't understand how a school district board could just say, let's move things around and we can plan for a $50 million referendum because we say so. Research, planning and community engagement are truly necessary to implement such a huge vision. The lame duck people suggesting this decision are behaving irresponsibly.
Mara Meyer November 02, 2012 at 01:22 AM
How about the fact that kindergarten is still not required in the State of Illinois. Pushing children into a full day situation is not taken lightly. What type of curriculum do you offer for a full day? How much do you charge residents if they elect for the chldcare option. Could we piggyback with the Park District for the full day option...there are numerous possiblities, none of which are mentioned or considered by this Board. Amazing!
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Another Deerfield Resident November 16, 2012 at 03:37 PM
Children in Illinois are not required to go to school until age six. Why should we spend taxpayers' money on duplication of services when our community is fortunate to have many well established, quality schools --Montessori, traditional, faith-based-- for preschool and kindergarten children. These schools usually have some sort of financial assistance or sliding scale for those who need it. To spend tax payers' money building new buildings and maintaining them forever when the birth rate is going down also seems wasteful. We live in a community, not just a school district. Let's look to working with the existing community schools who are already doing a good job of serving the needs of the preschool and kindergarten children,.but not at taxpayers expense.

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