New law won't change full-day plans

All Illinois schools will be required to offer full-day kindergarten by 2027-28, but Community Consolidated Elementary District 181 is on track to do so for the 2025-26 school year.

Gov. JB Pritzker signed House Bill 2396 Aug. 2, Superintendent Hector Garcia reported at the Aug. 14 school board meeting. No announcement has been made about whether the state will offer any funding, but District 181 is not likely to qualify.

“Due to the formula they use, District 181 will not receive any of that funding,” Garcia said.

The district plans to borrow the money to pay for construction of additional classrooms and has included $26 million in debt certificates in the 2023-24 budget as a placeholder, according to a budget presentation in May.

Just how many classrooms are needed will be based on enrollment projections from demographer John Kasarda. His recent study shows district enrollment is expected to climb from about 3,588 this year to 3,700 by 2032-33, Garcia said.

Kindergarten classes are expected to increase by 49 students districtwide.

“We don’t see a whole lot of variability. We’re not going to see massive spikes in that data,” Garcia said.

Overall increases at individual schools could range from seven more students at Elm School to 33 more at Madison Schools. Some schools, like Oak and Prospect, are expected to see a drop in enrollment during that time frame.

“We’re analyzing those school-by-school numbers and taking into account what is the likely enrollment,” Garcia said. “These enrollment numbers and projections are not simple. There could be a particular year when a cohort of students is larger than the previous year.”

Officials expect to have bids on construction work in December and a preliminary budget in January.

Significant construction will take place in the summer of 2024, with the shell of additions built and basic utility installation completed. Then the classroom spaces would be finished during the 2024-25 school year. Garcia said he does not anticipate a need to start school later than usual in 2024 or 2025.

“Our commitment is to ensure that we not only open on time, but that we minimize disruptions to the learning environment,” he said.

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Pamela Lannom is editor of The Hinsdalean