Boise schools to offer free, full-day kindergarten districtwide

Boise School District trustees unanimously approved free, full-day kindergarten for all elementary schools to begin for the 2022-23 school year. The approval came during the board’s Monday evening meeting.

Boise currently offers tuition-based, full-day kindergarten at only 20 of the district’s 32 elementary schools, according to a district press release. Half-day instruction options would remain in place for parents to chose.

Dave Wagers

“This is one of the most rewarding votes I’ve cast since joining the board,” said board president Dave Wagers. “The evidence is clear that full-day kindergarten is much more effective academically than half-day kindergarten. This investment in early childhood education will ensure an equitable and accessible kindergarten program for families across our district.”

Kindergarten is optional for parents in Idaho and the state pays for only half-day kindergarten programs. Boise joins an increasing number of districts and charters that have decided to offer full-day kindergarten by seeking alternative funding routes.

The Legislature likely will consider funding full-day kindergarten during the 2022 session, which began Monday. Gov. Brad Little proposed during his State of the State address on Monday to devote $47 million for literacy programs — which would give schools the flexibility to provide all-day kindergarten.

“We know that students’ literacy, math and social skills are much improved with a full day of kindergarten,” said Boise superintendent Coby Dennis. “Full-day kindergarten supports the schedule of working parents, and teachers love the fact that they have more time for both instruction and intervention.”

District administrators estimate the move to districtwide, full-day kindergarten will cost $2.7 million to implement. Funding will come from local and state funding sources, including a one-time donation from the Micki and Dan Chapin Education Fund in the Idaho Community Foundation to set up 14 classrooms.

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