Yorkville SD115 Board approves full-day kindergarten to start with 2022-23 year

Yorkville School District 115 K-8 Teaching and Learning Coordinator Leslie Kressin, right, outlines plans for a full-day kindergarten program starting with the 2022-23 school year, at the April 25, 2022 school board meeting. At left is Kessin's elementary instruction administrative colleague Nate Campbell. (Mark Foster -- mfoster@shawmedia.com)

YORKVILLE – Kindergarten students in Yorkville School District 115 will receive a complete day of learning with the start of the 2022-23 school year.

The Yorkville School Board on April 25 voted 5-0 to implement a full-day kindergarten program, with two members absent.

“This will have a long-term impact for our kids,” school board President Lynn Burks said.

K-8 Teaching & Learning Coordinator Leslie Kressin said the district expects that the vast majority of parents will opt for the full-day schedule for their kindergarteners.

“The response from parents has been overwhelmingly positive,” Kressin said.

The children of parents who had already registered their young ones for the half-day schedule will be enrolled in the full-day plan automatically, Kressin said.

While parents may still opt for the half-day schedule, the district is encouraging them to enroll their kindergarteners for the complete day of learning, Kressin said.

The new program will lengthen the school day to seven hours from the current three hours under the half-day program.

This will include an additional 110 instructional minutes to the kindergarten schedule, providing access to art, music, literacy and technology instruction.

There also will be social and emotional learning and physical education, along with “exploratory play,” recess and lunch.

With the pending purchase of the We Grow Kids day care building at 101 Garden Street in Yorkville, the district will be able to relocate and consolidate its Early Childhood Program and free up space in its elementary schools for the full-day of kindergarten classes.

Yorkville School District 115 is planning to purchase the We Grow Kids day care center building to operate its early childhood program, freeing space for the full-day of kindergarten classes to be offered at neighborhood schools. (Mark Foster -- mfoster@shawmedia.com)

The district has a contract to purchase the building for $1 million, Superintendent Tim Shimp said. The large building will require some work, including the roof and the heating and ventilation system, he said.

The building interior will be reconfigured to meet the needs of the Early Childhood Program and parking is expected to be added, Shimp said.

The school district moved quickly to create the full-day kindergarten program. An exploratory committee was assembled in March.

The panel was composed of kindergarten teachers, building principals, district administrators, student service representatives, an English language teacher, a music teacher and an art teacher.

Some details of the program are still being worked out, including where kindergarten students will attend their classes. While the majority are expected to go to their neighborhood schools, some may attend at a different location.

The district expects to hire up to an additional 10 kindergarten teachers for the full-day program.

The projected enrollment for the incoming kindergarten class is roughly 450, Shimp said.

The school district will host an on-line session to provide information about the new program.

The Facebook Live session will get underway at 6 p.m. on April 26 and may be accessed on the district’s Facebook page by searching @Yorkville115 and on the district’s YouTube page by searching Yorkville CUSD 115.

School officials participating in the program will include Burks, Shimp and Kressin.

The session will review what a typical school day will be like, explain where kindergarten classes will be held and outline care options before and after school.

The Yorkville School Board includes Burks, Vice-president Robert Brenart, Secretary Ashley Rhea Fichtel and members Tom Kozlowicz, Jenny Morgan, Shawn Schumacher and Jason Senffner.