Chicago Mandates Full School Day for Kindergartners

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According to an article from WBEZ , Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel has announced that all schools in the CPS system will require that all kindergartners attend school for the entire day. The decision comes amid the district and Emanuel's personal agenda of advancing early childhood education for Chicago's young children. Currently, Illinois mandates that kindergartners attend school for half the day, but Chicago's decision to more than double the classroom time for these children will require the district to find ways to fund this measure through cutting administration and operation budgets.

Here are some facts and details about the mayor's announcement, including the financial aspect, and what it will mean for early childhood education in the city:

* Most schools already have a full day of kindergarten. However, these schools can only provide that option if they have enough money to allocate the needed funding from the principal's discretionary funds, noted CBS Chicago .

* Schools already offering this type of class had to pay $100,000 each year for the teacher's salary and supplies.

* In the past, schools have had to give up music and art classes to be able to offer a full-day of kindergarten.

*A half-day of kindergarten consists of three hours of classroom time, whereas a full-day is seven hours.

* With CPS mandating a full-day of classroom time for these students, which will begin next fall, the district will be allocating its own money to help pay for the extra expenses.

* The Chicago Tribune reported that CPS will have to come up with an extra $15 million each year and officials have stated that this funding will be paid for through cuts and other savings made at the district's central office.

* This will include renegotiating existing heating and electric contracts for district buildings and by limiting the overtime that engineers can accrue.

* There are currently 26,500 kindergarten students in all-day programs, but next fall, the remaining 4,200 students in the system will be able to attend school for the same amount of time, according to the Chicago Sun-Times .

* CPS had been adding full-day kindergarten seats each year. But until now, there has been no district-wide funding source for those seats.

* With the district providing the needed funding, schools will be able to bring back enrichment classes through their own budgets.

* Emphasizing the importance of the decision, Emanuel said, "When you talk to the teachers, every one of them will tell you the different between what a child can get in three hours versus seven hours. This is my long-term commitment to making sure our children at every age … are starting out ready."

Rachel Bogart provides an in-depth look at current environmental issues and local Chicago news stories. Currently pursuing her master's degree in environmental science, she applies her knowledge and passion to both topics to garner further public awareness.

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