Madison School Board Approves 4-Year-Old Kindergarten

By  | 

UPDATED: Tuesday, January 12, 2010 -- 5:30 p.m.
By NBC15's Dana Brueck

A move to educate younger children and more of them!

Monday night, the school board approved a 4-year-old kindergarten program, beginning for the 2011-2012 school year.

"I think 4K is definitely needed in this community."

That's, in part, why Woodland Montessori's Director, Jennifer Hoyt, got involved in planning for 4K in Madison.

"We have a quality program going so we wanted to be able to offer that possibility to other families if it was going to work out."

School Board President Arlene Silveira says a number of the program's details have yet to be worked out. Which elementary schools with enough space will host 4K... and which child care centers will participate...

"Transportation is budgeted for in the budget, but certainly depending upon where the centers are located, that will determine the final transportation structure," Silveira says.

Unlike an all day kindergarten, 4K will last 2.5 hours, with morning and afternoon options at no cost to families.

"At this point we're not planning on going forward," Hoyt says, "We don't know the details, the cost to our programing. We definitely don't want our current program to be affected or changed in any way because what we have is a good program."

The district doesn't have start-up costs for a program beginning in 2011.

But officials say it would've cost the district 12.2 million dollars to implement this Fall... for a projected 15-hundred students.

Of the total cost, roughly 8-million dollars would've been needed through borrowing and raising property taxes...

And Silveira says the tax impact was a concern.

"We want to look at are there other ways .. other things we can do to mitigate some of that tax impact," she says.

"We really haven't seen all of the budget numbers so we have been unable to have that discussion."

The state will reimburse the district for only one third of students the first year, then two thirds the 2nd year... but the district has agreed to reimburse child care centers for all enrolled students.

Without knowing how much the district will see in state funding - overall - in 2011.

It's hard to predict how much the district will need through a tax hike.

The district says 75-percent of school districts statewide have 4K.

Posted Tuesday, January 12, 2010 --- 8:45 a.m.

NBC15 News Partner, WIBA, contributed to this report:

The Madison School Board has approved a 4-year-old kindergarten program.

On Monday night, board members voted to start the program in 2011.

Members first deadlocked in a three-to-three tie on whether to start 4-K this fall, then voted five-to-one to implement it the following year.

The cost this year would have been more than $12 million. The decision to delay implementation is due to serious budget problems facing the Madison District.

Nearly 1600 4-year-old students are expected to participate in the half-day kindergarten program.