Westlake City Schools Plan To Offer All-Day Kindergarten Next Year
Superintendent Dan Keenan hopes to add five new classrooms and teachers.
While many Ohio school districts are waiting to see if Gov. John Kasich repeals a state mandate for all-day kindergarten, Westlake city schools are planning to start offering classes next year.
“For the fall, we’re committed to doing all-day kindergarten,” said city schools Superintendent Dan Keenan. “We’ve wanted it for about 10 years, but our buildings haven’t had space. We’re about 400 kids over capacity for what our space is.”
Now that voters have passed a 3.4 mill bond issue, Keenan said the district can take funds they have been spending on repairs and use it for modular spaces at each elementary school for kindergarten classrooms.
Keenan plans to add five kindergarten classrooms and five new teachers next year. However, the changes will only result in two additional positions overall as others are eliminated through attrition, or possibly cuts.
“We’re looking to offset those changes with changes in personnel or programming,” he said. “We may increase class sizes a bit or change programming. We might be moving people around and restructuring.”
Keenan said the district zeroed the budget this year partly to prepare for all-day kindergarten next year, but also because of the lean economy. Administrators planned for a 12 percent cut in state funding this year and another 5 percent cut next year, according to Keenan. About 5 percent of the district’s $50 million budget comes from the state.
But even if the budget shrinks, Keenan is dedicated to all-day kindergarten, partly because it provides a strong base for further learning and partly because it’s what the community wants.
“We’re aware this is a value of ours,” he said. “We’re trying to do this with offsets and if (the budget) becomes worse, everything will be on the table. “We have some pretty good processes here where we stay in tune with the community through board meetings and community input meetings. I probably would evaluate everything before I throw one particular program like kindergarten under the bus.”