All 21 Puyallup elementary schools will offer free full-day kindergarten this fall, following action Monday night by the Puyallup School Board.
The board agreed to expand the program, which is being offered this year at Firgrove, Spinning and Stewart elementary schools. Puyallup receives state full-day kindergarten funding only for those three schools. For now, that funding is based on student poverty rates.
But Puyallup is following the lead of many other districts around Washington in anticipation of the 2017-18 school year, when the state hopes to move to universal full-day kindergarten programs.
“The full-day kindergarten program will offer enriched, expanded learning opportunities for all students and prepare students for better success in later grades,” Assistant Superintendent Chrys Sweeting said in a news release. “Research reveals that children participating in developmentally appropriate, full-day kindergarten make greater gains both socially and academically.”
District spokesman Brian Fox said Tuesday that Puyallup plans to use about $2.8 million from the $46 million to be generated over the next six years by the capital improvements levy voters approved in February. Those dollars will pay to remodel some schools and add portable classroom space at others, to make room for kindergarteners who will stay all day.
Fox said predicting kindergarten enrollment is always challenging. He said the goal is to ensure that older students, not kindergarteners, would be taught in portables if necessary.
Puyallup also anticipates the change will require hiring between 19 and 25 new kindergarten teachers, estimated at a cost of between $1.6 million and $2.1 million. Funding will come from a combination of state and local levy dollars, Fox said.
In the past, Puyallup offered full-day kindergarten, but for a fee. The program operated at seven elementary schools in the 2003-04 school year and at nine schools in the 2008-09 school year.
Puyallup is the second-largest school district in Pierce County, behind only Tacoma.
Tacoma already has all-day kindergarten at all its schools.
KINDERGARTEN SIGN-UP STARTS MARCH 18
Kindergarten registration opens March 18 in Puyallup for the 2014-15 school year.
Learn more at the school district Website, www.puyallup.k12.wa.us