Council Rock set to move to full-day kindergarten. Here's what it'll cost and what to know

The Council Rock school board is expected to approve full-day kindergarten for its youngest learners this week.

Earlier this year, the district found strong support for a longer program to replace the half-day option now offered at all of its elementary schools. The move to an approximate 6.5-hour kindergarten day would begin with the 2025-26 school year as it will take about a year to create the program, hire staff and register students.

The Council Rock board is set for a vote on the proposal Thursday.

The push for full-day kindergarten is no surprise.

School district officials recently concluded a community survey to gauge Council Rock's interest in a full-day kindergarten program, which would add about four hours to the school day. Members of the community were able to voice concerns, ask questions, and provide insight about the change.

A presentation from the district was given at a community meeting on June 4.

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File - School district officials recently concluded a community survey to gauge Council Rock's interest in a full-day kindergarten program, which would add about four hours to the school day.
File - School district officials recently concluded a community survey to gauge Council Rock's interest in a full-day kindergarten program, which would add about four hours to the school day.

Council Rock survey find strong support for full-day kindergarten

The survey, conducted by Hanover Research, was completed by 3,587 members of the community and found strong support for the full-day program.

Of current staff members who filled out the survey, 75% "strongly support" the program. Similarly, 72% of current Council Rock parents "strongly support" full-day kindergarten.

Additionally, the survey found that nearly one-third of current parents sent their child to a school outside of the district in order to be enrolled in a full-day program. Support of working parents, increased preparation for first grade, and consistent daily routines were the three most popular choices when community members were asked to name the biggest benefits of the full-day program.

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Why move to a full-day program in Council Rock?

According to the district, a full-day program allows students to "have extra time to develop academic and social learning skills and establish a reliable daily schedule with consistent routines." Other benefits listed in the presentation include, "increased academic skills and increased preparedness for first grade."

There would no longer be a half-day option in the district.

The presentation also lists several potential obstacles, including providing adequate staffing, developing an age-appropriate schedule, and accomodating new classroom space. Council Rock has been looking to other districts for guidance, officials said.

How will full-day kindergarten be funded?

Administrators also explained that the full-day program would require 33 new staff members to be hired, citing the need for 17-plus general education teachers, seven specialists, five instructional assistants, three support staff, and one school psychologist.

The district said the estimated cost of hiring new staff comes out to $2,611,208. The district's presentation explains that the program will be funded by a tax increase that will be split over two years.

The 2024-2025 school year 0.56% tax increase is expected to yield $1,007,879 in the first year, with the rest of the costs being made up in 2025-2026. Additionally, the district estimates that the elimination of mid-day runs for school buses will save the district $483,000.

The district's General Fund fund balance will pay for the program with officials saying that furniture and classroom supplies will cost $1,138,539.

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What are the next steps?

Council Rock School District responded to a request for comment, promising more information after the June 20 school board meeting, where officials are expected to vote to approve the implementation of the full-day kindergarten. No immediate information was available on classroom sizes.

This article originally appeared on Bucks County Courier Times: Council Rock school board ready to vote on full-day kindergarten

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