The Southwest Licking school board Thursday, April 26, voted 5-0 to add three kindergarten rooms to a Kirkersville Elementary School addition.

The Southwest Licking school board Thursday, April 26, voted 5-0 to add three kindergarten rooms to a Kirkersville Elementary School addition.

The other option was to add four smaller classrooms that could be used for any grade to the same addition.

However, board members agreed establishing all-day, every-day kindergarten is an important long-term goal for the district. Adding three kindergarten rooms, which are larger than regular classrooms to accommodate the demands of teaching kindergarten, isn't enough to facilitate all-day kindergarten immediately, they said, but the district is in a better position to implement all-day kindergarten eventually.

Board members also agreed four smaller classrooms would derail the goal of all-day kindergarten entirely.

"It's a step toward something I've questioned for years," board member Dave Engel said. "If we put four rooms in there, all we've done is blockade ourselves out of all-day, every-day kindergarten."

Superintendent Forest Yocum said the addition will cost around $2 million. It will be roughly 3,400 to 3,500 square feet, with each classroom measuring 1,068 square feet.

During the meeting, which was held at Kirkersville Elementary School, board President Don Huber also was clear that given the two choices, he didn't want to do anything that would preclude all-day kindergarten.

Treasurer Richard Jones said 14 to 16 classrooms are necessary for all day-kindergarten, and even with the new classrooms, the district facilities currently cannot handle it.

"Either way, we're going to have to use regular classrooms," he said.

Huber said he understood, but he did not want to make the situation worse by building smaller classrooms in the Kirkersville addition.

"I don't think we're going to have enough kindergarten rooms unless we build a new elementary (school)," Jones said.

Board member Debra Moore said building an addition to Kirkersville Elementary School makes economic sense, but she questioned whether it is practical. She asked if the board should wait to approve the new addition when the district's master plan is reviewed and a new superintendent is hired.

Jones said if the board wants the addition completed by the 2013-14 school year, "we have to move fast." Otherwise, it could be delayed up to a year, he said.

"I can appreciate we need to make a decision," board Vice President Cindy Zaino said.

Zaino said she wished the topic would have been discussed months earlier.

"Now it comes down to a philosophical decision," she said, referring to whether the board should base its decision on the desire for all-day kindergarten classes.

Engel said a first-grade class can be taught in a kindergarten room, but the opposite is not true.

"(Kindergarten teachers) won't have the space to do what they're asked to do," he said.

On the surface, he said, the kindergarten rooms were the logical choice.