MEDINA — Tina Cassidy, Medina Schools’ director of instruction, recommended Monday night that the district follow its five-year strategic plan and begin free all-day kindergarten with the 2018-19 school year.
At Monday’s school board work session, Superintendent Aaron Sable said all-day kindergarten is the most expensive item in the five-year strategic plan. The cost to implement all-day kindergarten was not available Monday night.
The school board would prefer to know the outcome of the proposed 5.2-mill substitute emergency levy before it implements free all-day kindergarten, but kindergarten registration for next fall starts in January and the election is May 8.
Sable said the board and administration is confident the levy will pass, but if it doesn’t, cuts will have to be made.
He added he expects to make his kindergarten recommendation to the board at its next regularly scheduled meeting in two weeks.
In a presentation to the board, Cassidy said the district has 14 full-time kindergarten teachers. If it moves to an all-day format, she said the district would need 19.5 teachers, an increase of 5.5.
At a work session last month, it was speculated 10 teachers would need to be hired.
“All-day kindergarten classes show greater reading and math achievement gains than those in half-day classes,” she said. “All-day kindergarten can produce long-term gains, especially for low-income and minority students.”
Medina has half-day kindergarten as required by law but also offers an all-day kindergarten option for $2,700 a year.
“Everyone needs a free option in their building,” she said.
The district has 437 kindergarten students this year. Waite Elementary (83) and Northrop Elementary (73) have the largest classes.
If the levy fails next May, it’s conceivable the district could reinstate fees for full-day kindergarten in 2019-20.
“If our levy doesn’t pass, we’re in bad shape,” Sable said. “You’re talking $6.6 million coming out of the budget. It will be devastating.”
Contact reporter Bob Finnan at (330) 721-4049 or firstname.lastname@example.org.