Southwest Licking Local Schools will hold off on full-day, every-day kindergarten for at least two more years.

Southwest Licking Local Schools will hold off on full-day, every-day kindergarten for at least two more years.

SWL school board members voted 5-0 during a special meeting Jan. 26 to request a two-year waiver - on top of the one-year waiver in use this year - for the House Bill 1 requirement for Ohio districts to offer all-day kindergarten.

Superintendent Forest Yocum told the board he had looked into the costs and challenges associated with full-day kindergarten and found that it would cost about $350,000 for the classroom space alone.

Yocum said his calculations were based on the estimate of 300 students - an increase from the current student level.

The current Kindergarten Center, 927-B South St., would have enough classroom space for about 150 students if the student-to-teacher ratio were increased to 22 students per class.

"We would have to take the other students elsewhere," Yocum said.

"At Kirkersville (Elementary School), we have two classrooms currently. If we were to purchase two two-unit portables, that would give us six classrooms there," he said.

A Columbus company priced the modulars at $45,000-$55,000 each, in addition to a set-up fee of $30,000 each, he said.

Another option would be to rent the modulars until the district could purchase or build a new building, but renting the units would cost $700 a month. Yocum estimated it would take two to three years before the district could pass a capital-improvements levy and another two to three years until the new building would even be ready.

"That's a minimum of six years until the building is built, and that puts the cost of the rental right at the amount of purchase," he said.

In addition, the district must consider the five teachers needed to staff those classrooms.

"We're a little concerned about the expense of those teachers," Yocum said. "That would put us on the ballot (next time) for larger millage, or we could take current staff that we have and move them."

Elementary art, music and guidance staff were areas that Yocum suggested could be reduced to meet this need.

"We all feel that all-day, everyday kindergarten is a good thing both socially and academically for children," he said. "But until we know that the (state) funds aren't going to be pulled away from us, we're very reluctant to be adding to the program."

Board member Don Huber made the motion to apply for the two-year waiver.

Board president Dave Engle seemed hopeful that the additional time would give the district an opportunity to see what the state legislature would do about school funding.

The board also asked Yocum and treasurer Richard Jones to prepare two staffing plans - with and without all-day kindergarten.