The Southwest Licking school board voted unanimously Jan. 28 to ask the Ohio Department of Education to waive the new all-day kindergarten requirement.

The Southwest Licking school board voted unanimously Jan. 28 to ask the Ohio Department of Education to waive the new all-day kindergarten requirement.

Dave Engel, board vice president, said the district still has a lot to consider before it could offer all-day, everyday kindergarten to an estimated 300 kindergartners.

"Right now we don't have any room to place them, so the thing we have to do is find a place to house them," he said. "We need a little more time to make some plans."

He said district officials have been considering many options, including finding community space, using a temporary facility such as a trailer or placing a small bond issue on an upcoming ballot.

"Any of those have a time frame built into it, which would not be able to be met this year," Engel said.

Superintendent Forest Yocum said it appears as though the district would split the kindergarten and keep half at the current Kindergarten Center and move half to Kirkersville Elementary School, where the kindergarten students would be moved into the building and older students would be moved into three doublewide modular units at the school.

Yocum said this approach likely would occur during the 2011-12 school year, even if the ODE approves the district's wavier for the 2010-11 school year.

Currently, all SWL kindergartners attend the Kindergarten Center and then filter into the district's three elementary schools in Kirkersville, Pataskala and Etna.

Engel said a long-term goal would to build another elementary building and a new high school building and move kindergartners to the elementary schools in their housing districts.

"That, obviously, is something that is down the road a fair ways," Engel said. "We are looking at those things; we are keeping all those in mind."

Yocum said the district would need a bond issue to build a new elementary or high school but doesn't see that as a possibility in the near future.

"Quite honestly, there is no way we could expect our community to support a bond issue without the Ohio School Facilities Commission helping us," he said. "That would be very difficult."

For now, Yocum said, the district has to concentrate on its emergency operating levy that likely will be on the May 4 ballot. Board members have until Feb. 18 to decide on millage for the May levy attempt. The district's 7-mill levy operating levy, which collected $3.3-million and is being collected at a rate of 5.6 mills, expired Dec. 31. The levy will stop collecting at the end of the current school year.

"Right now we are going to have to be focusing on our operating levy," Yocum said.

He said he would prefer not having to purchase modular units but thinks he has little say.

"At this moment, it's not good money being spent," Yocum said. "It is not good expense of community members' money, but sometimes you don't have a choice."

Engel said it is up to the district and the ODE to decide SWL's future.

"We approved the resolution (Thursday, Jan. 28) to forward the application to the ODE," Engel said. "It's up to them. They can either approve the waiver or deny it, which means we would really have to scramble."