By Chris Hendrickson, Monitor
Beginning in the 2013-14 school year, the Sultan School District will be offering free, all-day kindergarten to kids at both Sultan and Gold Bar elementary schools.
“We made the decision to extend tuition-free, full-day kindergarten to both elementary schools after reviewing the state’s 2013-14 budget,” said Sultan School District Superintendent Dan Chaplik.
The full-day kindergarten program is the result of an RCW in which state lawmakers mandated that statewide funding for all-day kindergarten programs be completely phased in by the 2017-18 school year. The funding will be given out to schools in order of the highest poverty level, which is determined by examining the percentages of students who qualify for either free or reduced-price lunch support.
Gov. Jay Inslee signed the two-year state operating budget on June 30, 2013, in which 43.75 percent of kindergarten students will be funded for all-day programs. Gold Bar Elementary was selected as one of the school’s to be included in this budget for both the 2013 14 and the 2014-15 school years, however Sultan Elementary was not yet made eligible.
In an effort to maintain continuity in the district, Sultan’s board of directors made the decision to allocate the necessary resources to ensure that full-day kindergarten can be provided at Sultan Elementary as well as Gold Bar.
Sultan School District’s press release from July 17 reported that the district’s summer officials will be in the process of creating additional classrooms, hiring more kindergarten teachers and purchasing additional teaching materials.
“Having the resources to add a full-day ‘tuition-free’ kindergarten at both Sultan Elementary School and Gold Bar Elementary School is such an important financial blessing to our families – some of whom could not afford the cost for the additional half day of learning,” stated the district’s release.
The district reports that having the option to enroll their children in this extended day kindergarten program will potentially save parents from $1,400 to $2,400 per year.
“From our district’s program perspective, it is wonderful,” said Superintendent Chaplik.
The State of Washington office of the Superintendent of Public Instruction’s website references an advocacy guide supporting full-day kindergarten programs, which was compiled by the National Education Association after they examined the results of several full-day kindergarten versus half-day kindergarten studies.
The NEA reports that full-day kindergarten boosts student achievement, improves students’ social and emotional skills and is preferred by both parents and teachers.
“Teachers have more time to get to know kids, and to work with specialists to identify and evaluate kids’ needs, skills and abilities,” states the report.
Teachers reported many other benefits including a smoother transition into first grade, more flexibility and time to do activities, additional time for child assessments, and greater ease for working parents.
Kindergarten registration can be completed at the district office which is located at 514 4th St. in Sultan. Parents will be required to present proof of their child’s birth date with either a birth certificate or a signed hospital certificate. They will also need to provide immunization records. To begin kindergarten this fall, children must be five years old by Aug.31.
For more information, call the Sultan School District at (360) 793-9800.
To view the advocacy guide by the NEA, follow this link: http://tinyurl.com/fulldayadvocacy