Four-Year-Old Kindergarten to Be Considered

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Four-year-olds in the Eau Claire school district have never had a chance to try kindergarten at their age. If a group called the Eau Claire Early Learning Initiative has their way, younger kids in our area will soon enough.

"We think it's a way to capitalize on the resources that are already in our community," said Early Learning Coordinator Paula Wainscott.

There doesn't seem to be any concern about housing the kids. School leaders plan to partner up with pre-schools and child care centers.

"It's not going to be like a watered-down kindergarten program that's going to be in every elementary school."

Using school space for the classes isn't out of the question should the need arise. There's also a component to help out parents who prefer to keep their kids at home.

"If anything there can be a comment made that we should even start younger providing rich opportunities for our children and their families," said Patty Horecki, a community volunteer involved with the proposal.

"But now not only will they be getting child care at age four, but they'll be getting an educational component provided through the school district with qualified, licensed teachers," School Board Member Mike O'Brien Said.

Parents whose kids are already at a participating site would have the option of enrolling their four-year-old. Supporters hope to provide universal access within three years. The proposed program would not replace five-year-old kindergarten.

After Monday's meeting the seven board members will weigh out the facts and any community input they receive before their final vote in December. District leaders say any plan they approve will be put into place next fall.