By DASCHELL M. PHILLIPS
Mayor Rahm Emanuel and Chicago Public Schools (CPS) CEO Barbara Byrd-Bennett announced last week that every CPS school, including those in Hyde Park, would offer full-day kindergarten starting next school year.
According to CPS, children who attend a quality, full-day kindergarten demonstrate notable academic advantages in later years over students who did not, including more independent learning, classroom involvement and productivity.
Since Illinois school districts are not required to fund full-day kindergarten, central office cuts have been made to allow CPS to invest $15 million in implementing this plan.
“Every single child deserves to have a high quality education that will prepare them to succeed in life,” Emanuel said in a written statement. “That can’t happen if they are behind their peers across the nation when they enter first grade. We are making smart, critical investments that support our students’ bright futures.”
Over the past two years CPS has steadily expanded access to full-day kindergarten, adding 6,000 additional seats in last school year alone, bringing the total number of students with access to full-day kindergarten up to 26,500. But with this change, CPS will move from guaranteeing only a half-day kindergarten in elementary schools to guaranteeing a full day for the approximately 30,700 children entering CPS each year.
“I made universal full-day kindergarten a priority for our schools because frankly our children cannot afford to wait,” Byrd-Bennett said in a written statement. “We must invest our resources in smart ways that provide every student in every school with a full education from the very first moment they walk through our doors.”
Currently in Hyde Park Bret Harte, 1556 E. 56th St.; Murray, 5335 S. Kenwood Ave.; Ray, 5631 S. Kimbark Ave. and Kozminski, 936 E. 54th St. have full day kindergarten and Reavis, 834 E. 50th St., has half day kindergarten.