Highline Public Schools announced today that it will find a way to offer a full day of class for all its kindergartners next fall, free of charge.
The district grew tired of waiting for the state Legislature, which has committed to fully funding all-day kindergarten classes for all students by fall 2017, but is not offering anything near that level now. For this school year, the state covered the costs for about 22 percent of the state’s kindergartners to attend class for a full school day, according to the Office of Superintendent of Public Instruction.
Lawmakers are now debating how much to increase that funding for the upcoming school year, but none of the budget proposals would cover the costs for all kindergartners.
In Highline, school leaders decided that full-day kindergarten was crucial if the district wanted to meet the goals in its new strategic plan, such as ensuring that by the end of third grade, 95 percent of the district’s students are at grade level in core subjects.
“We just realized that full-day kindergarten – it just had to happen,” said Superintendent Susan Enfield. “We just know that this will forever change the landscape of Highline. Now every student will have a really strong start to his educational career.”
Like many school districts, Highline has state funding for full-day kindergarten in some of its high-poverty schools. This year, eight of the district’s elementary schools offered full-day kindergarten classes with state support. At the other eight, four offered full-day classes for a fee, and four offered only half-day classes.
“This has to be a funding priority and if it means some other things don’t get funded, this is where we think the priority dollars ought to go,” Enfield said.