The eight schools
All-day kindergarten will be offered this fall at Kennedy, Hillcrest, Woodlawn, Pinckney, New York, Schwegler, Prairie Park and Cordley schools.
The district hopes to eventually offer it at all elementary schools.
The school day just grew longer for hundreds of local children.
The Lawrence school board on Monday approved plans to revive full-day kindergarten programs at eight elementary schools beginning this fall.
"We're in the first stage here of bringing full-day kindergarten back to the district," Superintendent Randy Weseman said.
The schools - Kennedy, Hillcrest, Woodlawn, Pinckney, New York, Schwegler, Prairie Park and Cordley - were selected based on need demonstrated through student assessments and their populations of students receiving free and reduced-price lunches.
Ultimately district officials hope to expand the all-day offering to all of the district's 15 elementary schools.
Monday's move follows several years of talk and research. The district offered full-day kindergarten at several schools from 1998 to 2001, but cut the programs in 2001 because of budget constraints.
The plan to offer all-day programs at eight elementary schools, serving about 375 students, is expected to cost about $600,000 with the bulk coming from state funds allocated for programs benefiting at-risk students. The move will not require a tax increase.
The board opted not to jump on getting all-day programs at all elementary schools in the first year at an estimated cost of more than $1 million.
"We've got limited resources," Deputy Superintendent Bruce Passman said. "We've too many priorities to accomplish. It was just a matter of the board trying to prioritize how much full-day kindergarten can we underwrite the cost for now and still retain some funding to address some of the other needs we have."
Some issues - such as transportation, the half-day choice option for parents and policies for transfer students - have yet to be completely worked out.
But educators say the move will give students more time for math programs, including hands-on activities and intervention groups, plus extra time for science, health and social studies, and special disciplines such as art, music and physical education.
"Kids need time to practice," said Lynn Heffley, kindergarten teacher at Pinckney School. "We just really rush, rush, rush everything down.
"They don't have time to practice and actually explore and do the hands-on learning, and that's how children learn at this age."
In other business, the board also approved the $33,000 expenditure for an emergency notification system.