FOUR-YEAR-OLDS living in the Winnipeg School Division may get full-day kindergarten and nursery -- but some of those children may not see it until they have four-year-olds of their own.
With apocalyptic visions of school-tax doom filling the boardroom Monday night, WSD trustees sent trustee Mark Wasyliw's idea for full-day nursery and kindergarten to its finance committee for a full report from the administration.
"It's a great idea, but who's going to pay for it?" asked trustee Mike Babinsky.
"Something of this magnitude needs special consideration," because taxpayers are very concerned how much it could cost, said trustee Rita Hildahl, who said the costs could run as high as $50 million.
SSLqIt's a great idea, but who's going to pay for it?'
Hildahl did not substantiate that figure before the board went into the closed-door portion of its meeting.
The division needs to "study the feasibility of this," said trustee Kristine Barr, like Hildahl a supporter in principle.
Hildahl said maybe the division could try full days in one or two schools as a pilot project next fall.
Trustee Jackie Sneesby said she won't go to the public until she knows what kind of an education the division would be offering.
Two weeks ago, Wasyliw said he wants it rolled out in every elementary school by the 2018-19 school year, launching it first in the lowest socio-economic areas where kids need the most help to avoid falling behind in school.
Monday night, he'd backed off, telling the board that, "It may take five years, it may take 10 years."
Moments later, scrumming with reporters while the rest of the board dealt with in-camera business, Wasyliw said it could take 20 years to be in every WSD school.
"Two or three schools a year, we will always be able to find the money for that," he said. "I'm going to take this as a victory.
"We're talking about a change in the culture of education. We don't have the (classroom) space, and we have to put the money in place.
"I don't want to bankrupt Winnipeg School Division doing this," Wasyliw said.
He said Ontario has produced great results in students' social and learning development by going full-day, every day in both nursery and kindergarten.
The province does not fund nursery at all, and only funds half days of kindergarten. Half-day nursery costs $6 million and every penny comes out of WSD property taxes -- the province only funds half-day kindergarten under current policy.
There were 1,863 nursery school students in 2012-13 in the division, and 2,342 kindergarten students.
Going to full days could require hundreds of additional teachers and more classrooms as well.
The finance committee meets behind closed doors. The administration would have to study all aspects of the proposal and report back in time for a vote by the March 15 budget deadline, for anything to happen next fall. That's also when the next election will be held.
"I'd love to run an election on this issue," said Wasyliw.