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Full-Day Kindergarten Will Worsen Overcrowding at Lincoln, Principal Says

By Paul Biasco | March 19, 2013 8:05am
 Abraham Lincoln Elementary School
Abraham Lincoln Elementary School
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DNAinfo/Paul Biasco

LINCOLN PARK — For a school already seeking an overcrowding fix, the mandatory addition of all-day kindergarten in 2013-14 will seemingly only make the situation worse at Abraham Lincoln Elementary.

The school will be using six classrooms at an offsite building owned by DePaul University at 759 W. Belden Ave., and could see an influx of young children next year.

"There are no exceptions that we have heard so far," said Lincoln principal Mark Armendariz. "I welcome full-day kindergarten. I've been asking for it for years, but the problem is we don't have space."

Armendariz said there would likely be four kindergarten classes at the school in 2013-14, but it could reach five if Lincoln Park residents decide to opt out of private full-time kindergarten such as Lincoln Park Preparatory.

"If we are told we have full-day kindergarten, the move to 759 West Belden is a moot point in solving the overcrowding," he said.

The lease for the space at DePaul hasn't been signed yet. But when it is, it will only be for one year, Armendariz said. The decision to rent space offsite was made before Mayor Rahm Emanuel's announcement that full-day kindergarten be offered in all Chicago Public Schools.

This year, the school's half-day kindergarten classes have about 19 children in each class, but that number could rise depending on the Chicago Public Schools budget, which is likely to be released in April.

Lincoln Elementary has used discretionary funds raised by parent groups to hire additional teachers and keep kindergarten classes smaller.

"There are a lot of schools on the North Side who are having this huge problem of overcrowding, and how they are going to fit full-day kindergarten in," Armendariz said.

For 2013-14 the offsite DePaul-owned space will be capped at students in grades four and up, but it has not been decided who will be taking class in the building, which has yet to be built out in classroom spaces.