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Wileman Elementary School in Delavan will become an early-childhood learning center this year.

DELAVAN

Wileman Elementary School in Delavan likely will become a tuition-based, early-childhood learning center by August after the Delavan-Darien School Board approved renting part of the building to a private day care Monday night.

The move comes after the board voted in February to reopen Darien Elementary for the 2019-20 school year by shifting classes from Wileman and Turtle Creek elementary schools. The district will rent about 45% of Wileman to the owners of The Learning Curve in Elkhorn.

The board also approved moving to full-day 4-year-old kindergarten for the 2019-20 school year. The district currently has two half-day sessions of 4-year-old kindergarten classes.

Both votes were part of the district’s attempts to curtail falling enrollment, which has been steadily declining for years and is projected to continue dropping.

The early-childhood learning center at Wileman is expected to open by Aug. 1 and will be named TLC’s Little Comets Learning Center, said Kristen Marseo, co-owner of The Learning Center. The day care will be available for kids 4 weeks old to 12 years old and will be open five days a week year-round.

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Teacher Elizabeth Calhoun, left, helps students in her 4-year-old kindergarten dual-language class at Wileman Elementary School in Delavan.

Tuition will range from $35 to $39 a day for each child. Siblings of those enrolled will get a 10% discount, and Delavan-Darien district staff will get a 15% discount. The district will charge The Learning Curve $5,500 a month to rent the building for a total of $66,000 annually.

Marc Marseo, co-owner of the center, said Monday night that Delavan lacks a standalone day care center. He said some Delavan families have enrolled their children in the company’s Elkhorn day care and that some have indicated they would enroll in the Delavan center once it opens.

Kristen Marseo said the day care follows Handwriting Without Tears, a multisensory program for early writing, and will work with the district to develop curriculum. She said the day care will accept kids on non-school days, including snow days and non-scheduled school days.

Superintendent Jill Sorbie said Monday the center will be critical to growing the district’s student body.

The board also voted to hire two new teachers to accommodate the change to the 4-year-old kindergarten program. Sorbie said the move will offer students a better educational experience and double instructional minutes. It also will better prepare students for 5-year-old-kindergarten, she said.

Both decisions come after the board in February approved a district-wide realignment. Third and fourth grades will be at Darien Elementary for the 2019-20 school year, and 4-year-old kindergarten and kindergarten will move from Wileman to Turtle Creek, which already houses first and second grades.

In March, district officials projected another five years of declining enrollment. If the projections hold, the district will have nearly 770 fewer students in the 2023-24 school year than it did in 2013-14 school year, a drop of about 32 percent.

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Kindergarten students sit on a rug in the library as a teacher reads a book to them at Wileman Elementary School in Delavan.

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