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BLOOMINGTON - Full-day kindergarten helps children develop a full set of social skills and helps them realize what it means to go to school.

That's what Sally Tucker, superintendent of curriculum for District 87, said when asked what the benefits were to having the program at all district schools.

The board will vote Feb. 22 on adding the full-day program at Oakdale and Washington elementary schools. Sheridan, Irving, Bent and Stevenson already have full-day kindergarten programs after getting federal Title I funds, which are based on the number of low-income students.

The State of Illinois requires school districts to offer half-day kindergarten, Tucker said. "They can go home at noon," she said. She said core teaching is in the morning and enrichment is in the afternoon.

The district currently has no half-day kindergarten students. Tucker said typically some parents send their children for half days. But after a few weeks into the school year, the children want to stay the whole time.

"Children really struggle with transition - especially young children," Tucker said. It is better for them to be in one setting with one adult than to switch in mid-day to another adult with a different set of rules, she said.

Full-day kindergarten also means the teacher can reinforce what is learned in the morning in the afternoon.

The cost will be $40,000 to $45,000 per teacher, depending on the teacher, Tucker said.

Supplies are estimated at $5,000 each for the three classrooms, including furniture. But it could be less. "In some cases, we have some things in storage," Tucker said.

There is classroom space to hold the longer classes and also room on the school buses.

The district plans to fund all of its kindergarten programs out of district funds and use Title I money for the school district's bilingual programs, Tucker said.

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