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D-428 puts off decision on early childhood center

Published: Thursday, May 23, 2013 5:30 a.m. CDT

DeKALB – DeKalb School District 428 board members took no action on a pre-kindergarten and early childhood education center this week, preferring to wait and study the issue more.

Board members were presented with a choice to open Chesebro Elementary School as an early childhood center for either fall 2013 or fall 2014. However, board President Tom Matya said that although he felt the early childhood center was inevitable, it wasn’t time to approve it yet.

“To pull that off in a short time frame is very hard to do,” Matya said in an interview.

The educational benefits of having pre-kindergarten and early childhood education programs in one building are known to the officials. It’s the costs and implications of it that are giving them pause.

The district would have to spend at least $425,000 to renovate Chesebro for students again. But they would also have to spend at least $283,000 a year to maintain the programs there, which concerned board member Victoria Newport.

“It worries me that we’re jumping into something extremely quick, especially since we’re adding about $300,000 to our budget,” Newport said.

Moving pre-kindergarten and early childhood education out of Brooks, Jefferson and Tyler elementary schools would create open classrooms in those buildings.

But shuffling classrooms around creates a districtwide ripple effect, and school officials have said they wanted more time to examine changing the elementary school attendance boundaries.

Although board members expressed a desire to open the center for the 2014-2015 school year, they did not vote on it Tuesday.

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