All-day, everyday kindergarten pays offBeginning next school year, kindergartners at Cannon Falls Elementary School will be in their desks five days a week. Late last month, the Cannon Falls School Board voted to implement all-day, everyday kindergarten. Previously, the district has only offered kindergarten free of charge every other day.
By: Sarah Gorvin, The Republican Eagle
Beginning next school year, kindergartners at Cannon Falls Elementary School will be in their desks five days a week. Late last month, the Cannon Falls School Board voted to implement all-day, everyday kindergarten. Previously, the district has only offered kindergarten free of charge every other day.
Supt. Beth Giese has advocated the change for four years.
“It is so vitally important that we get these kids all day, every day. It does make a difference,” she said.
Students who attend all-day, everyday kindergarten have better reading skills, higher math scores and are more prepared to begin first grade, Giese said. And those benefits continue as students move into upper elementary and middle school, she said.
Cannon Falls is just one of a growing number of school districts that are saying all-day kindergarten is crucial to student needs. Red Wing School District has been offering all-day, everyday kindergarten for six years.
“We understand the importance of early childhood education,” Supt. Karsten Anderson said.
But for Minnesota schools, offering all-day, everyday kindergarten means more out-of-pocket expenses. Right now, the state provides school districts only about two-thirds of the funding that districts receive for older students. When districts offer full-day kindergarten, they have to find money to make up the difference.
“We get .62 revenue for each kindergartner that comes to school. We’re compensating the rest of that,” Giese said.
However, various proposals working their way through the Legislature would change that. Bills proposed in the House and Senate call for increased — but not full — funding for districts that choose to offer full-day kindergarten. Districts would not be required to do so.
Gov. Mark Dayton’s budget proposal also calls for $40 million to go toward all-day kindergarten.
“Research is so clear about the value of early childhood education,” Sunnyside Elementary School Principal Patti Roberts said. “I’m so thankful that the governor and Legislature is considering funding at an adequate level.”
Both Cannon Falls and Red Wing school districts said the extra funding would be a welcome addition.
“It would be a nice financial benefit to the school district because it would help offset some additional costs,” Anderson said.
“We’ll see what happens,” Giese added. “I think all of us have our fingers crossed.”
But even as they’re hoping for additional funding, both Cannon Falls and Red Wing officials said they’re more than willing to continue picking up the tab if the funding doesn’t go through.
“When we did the study on this, we determined that it was certainly well worth the investment of the dollars into the programming,” Roberts said.
“It’s well-worth every penny we put into the program,” Anderson added.