AUSTIN EDITION - Vote on classes coming

By Tim Ruzek

The Austin School Board could vote in January on whether to start all-day kindergarten.

Until then, the district will continue to study the feasibility and options of the idea and to collect opinions from parents, staff members and others during several meetings planned for November.

The board heard information from the district's all-day kindergarten feasibility study team during a work session Thursday night.


The team, led by Neveln Elementary School Principal Jean McDermott, presented four viable options for implementing all-day kindergarten in the district and their related costs.

Under the first option, art and music would be taught in the regular classrooms by a specialist to free up classroom space for more kindergarten rooms at the four elementary schools. Art would be on a cart at Banfield and Southgate elementary schools, but Sumner Elementary School would have an issue due to its art and music rooms not being usable for kindergarten.

The second option would keep grades K-5 at the schools and add three to four kindergarten sections at Woodson Community School. Adult Basic Education would move to free space at Woodson.

Under that plan, Banfield and Southgate would have four kindergarten classrooms; Neveln and Sumner each would have two.

The third option would create grade-level centers at the schools. Configuration A of the option would put grades K-2 at Banfield and Southgate and grades 3-5 at Sumner and Neveln.

Configuration B would make Banfield a center for early childhood and kindergarten, and Woodson would serve only first grade. Neveln, Sumner and Southgate each would have grades 2-5.

Under the fourth option, the district would lease a building for early childhood classes and Adult Basic Education. Woodson would turn into an all-day kindergarten center. Neveln, Sumner, Banfield and Southgate each would have grades 1-5.

None of the four options would require major remodeling, according to the team.


Superintendent Candace Raskin said the district would have to make choices on how it spends funds to allow for all-day kindergarten.

It'd cost about $19,000 to create three new kindergarten classrooms, according to the study. Transportation issues for the options have yet to be addressed.

The district now has 309 kindergartners enrolled with 11 full-time kindergarten teachers. Based on current figures, the team found the need for three more full-time kindergarten teachers.

"We're going to take this to the road," Raskin said, referring to the public meetings.

In December, Raskin said, she'll likely bring the best option to the board in or say the district can't afford to implement it.

Austin Area Catholic Schools implemented all-day, every day kindergarten this school year.

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