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Morton Times-News - Morton, IL
  • 709Connect discusses full-day kindergarten

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  • If District 709 switched from half-day to full-day kindergarten, it would need to hire five full-time teachers and either build or re-purpose five classrooms for kindergarten students.
     
    And that’s if district enrollment doesn’t continue to grow.
     
    Despite those monetary obstacles noted by Troy Teater, the district’s director of research and information systems, attendees Thursday at a
     
    709Connect community engagement workshop on curriculum favored making the change.
     
    They cited academic benefits and more time to improve social skills.
     
    Full-day kindergarten has been a hot topic in the district for many years. Most area districts offer full-day kindergarten.
     
    Teater said an analysis of 40 studies done between 1980 and 2007 showed students in full-day kindergarten scored higher on academic achievement tests at the end of the year than half-day kindergarten students.
     
    “But that advantage was gone by the end of third grade,” he said. “And full-day kindergarten did not consistently benefit students in nonacademic areas.”
     
    Technology, state- and college-mandated changes in high school graduation requirements, and the challenges of offering vocational education classes because of those changes were other topics discussed by Teater, Morton High School Principal Marjorie Johnson and Assistant Superintendent Craig Smock.
     
    Workshop attendees suggested lengthening the school day and school year, and becoming partners with area colleges and businesses so more vocational classes could be offered.
     
    In his talk on technology, Teater said school districts must always make sure they’re not buying technology for technology’s sake. The technology must improve student achievement.
     
    “Technology is cool. But for us, cool is expensive,” he said.
     
    Another huge consideration is student safety.
     
    “The Internet is a wonderful tool for education, but there’s some scary stuff out there,” Teater said. “We devote an incredible amount of time and resources to protecting our kids online.”
     
    The last of six 709Connect workshops is Nov. 29 in the high school cafeteria. Recommendations that will be made to the School Board based on the workshops will be discussed.

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