Lawrence school board members on Monday agreed to form a task force to explore ways to bring back all-day kindergarten.
"All-day kindergarten needs to be available for all families," said Vicki Penner, site council president at New York School, addressing the board.
Budget shortfalls forced board members to drop the popular program about four years ago, prompting a return to half-day kindergarten.
Since the switch, Penner said, many families can no longer afford to not have both parents in the workforce. Half-day kindergarten, she said, makes it difficult to for these parents to find and keep jobs.
"What if you're a waitress?" she said afterward. "No one's going to let you take off at noon to pick up your kindergartner or take your kindergartner to school."
New York School Principal Nancy DeGarmo endorsed Penner's request that a task force be formed. "This is a grassroots effort," she said. "It's not just parents who want it. It's teachers, too."
Through proposed by the New York School Site Council, a move to all-day kindergarten would apply to elementary schools throughout the district.
Supt. Randy Weseman, a longtime proponent of all-day kindergarten, will lead the task force.
Weseman said he would have some proposals for the board to consider by year's end.
"If we dropped it in districtwide, we'd have to hire 23 teachers. It would cost us well over a million dollars," Weseman said. "We can't do that, obviously. Maybe we can phase it in or do some other things."
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