The Gahanna-Jefferson Public School District is moving toward all-day kindergarten for every kindergartner next school year.

The Gahanna-Jefferson Public School District is moving toward all-day kindergarten for every kindergartner next school year.

The school board discussed the move during its Jan. 9 meeting but postponed a decision.

G-J Superintendent Francis Scruci said all-day kindergarten is something the administration believes in.

"It's something we think is best for kids," he said. "We feel the building-block years are important. It gives them a foundation for the rest of their years."

Scott Schmidt, executive director of elementary education, said district officials have been discussing the idea for a while. He said the district's current full-day kindergarten was started as an extended-day program.

"We saw great benefits with that," he said. "We heard from those who wanted to send kids to full-day kindergarten. So we had tuition. Now we have two full-day sections at every elementary building."

Schmidt said 355 full-day kindergartners are enrolled this year. Tuition is $250, but not all of the families pay because some qualify for special services and/or free or reduced-price lunches for which the district waives or reduces fees.

Another 122 half-day kindergarten students are enrolled.

Schmidt said 70 percent of current half-day families selected half-day because of a lack of finances, and 77 percent of current half-day families would choose full-day if it were free.

He said there's a potential to reduce class size to an average of 21 rather than the current 25 in full-day classes.

If the district were to implement full-day kindergarten, Schmidt said, it would require an additional 3.5 teaching staff positions at a cost of $208,000 per year. The district also would lose $500,000 from current full-day fees.

The move would increase funding from the state at $345,000, leaving the district with a cost of $363,00 to implement full-day classes for all kindergartners.

Board member Windy McKenna asked how current kindergarten teachers feel about the prospect of full-day kindergarten.

"The teachers who teach in the half-day program are stressed," Schmidt said. "They're excited about the possibility of more time. Teachers have to choose a less-than-ideal way to get the information across."

He said the parents who have students in half-day kindergarten think it's very rushed.

During the board's organizational meeting, Jill Schuler was elected president and Lew Griffin vice president.

The board set the second Thursday of the month as its regular meeting date at 6:30 p.m. at Clark Hall, 380 Granville St.

Work sessions will be held at 6:30 p.m. the first Thursday of every month at the administrative offices, 160 S. Hamilton Road. An additional meeting will be held at 7:30 p.m. June 30 for end-of-2014 fiscal year financials.