Last evening (January 12th), the School District of Elmbrook's Board of Education approved adding 4-Year-Old Kindergarten (4K) for the 2021-2022 school year by a vote of 5-2. The 4K offering will be tuition-free and hosted at each District elementary school. Prior to the approval, Elmbrook was one of only five Districts across the state to not offer this half-day, educational program to our community.
"There are many reasons to support this program," said Superintendent Mark Hansen. "It responds to data that demonstrates a 4-year-old school experience has a statistically significant impact on student achievement, it may help qualify the District for additional state aid, and it stabilizes enrollment growth and our operating budget as we exit the pandemic."
School Board President Scott Wheeler voiced his support by noting, "4-Year-Old Kindergarten will help us achieve our early literacy goals and provide equitable access to an early childhood learning experience for all students and families in our community."
While the District currently offers a private, tuition-based, 4-year-old preschool program, that program will be replaced this Fall (Sept 2021) by a universal 4K program available to all 4-year-old community residents. This half-day program will include transportation to and from school, and will offer a private, fee-based wraparound childcare service at each elementary school. 4K programs have been in place in most Districts across the state for many years, recognized as an opportunity to teach students early literacy and math skills, as well as social and emotional skills needed to be successful in school.
In 2006-07, Elmbrook Schools participated in a 4K pilot with 50 students attending. That pilot expanded in 2007-08 to 200 students, but the program ended in 2008 after the Board of Education voted to end the pilot rather than pursue a full implementation in 2008-09. 4K has been discussed by several Boards of Education over the years, without a Board discussion and action sequence. In addition to discussing 4K at two Teaching and Learning Board Committee Meetings, the entire Board of Education participated in two work sessions in November and January, as well as the traditional Discussion (December 8) and Action (January 12) sequence that led to the decision.
Details about Elmbrook's 4K offering will be posted to the District's website on Friday, January 15th.