Ybarra: All-day kindergarten ‘must remain optional’

State superintendent Sherri Ybarra says she supports efforts to boost literacy, and says her budget reflects it.

But Ybarra says she does not support mandatory, all-day kindergarten — even though the State Board of Education is not pushing such an idea.

Sherri Ybarra1
State superintendent Sherri Ybarra

On Thursday, Idaho Education News reported on the State Board’s proposal to make all-day kindergarten available to children who lack basic reading skills. The $9.8 million plan is optional. Parents don’t have to enroll eligible children in the all-day plan, and districts do not have to offer all-day kindergarten.

Ybarra’s 2016-17 budget includes $5 million for literacy initiatives, but not the $9.8 million State Board plan.

Here’s the Ybarra statement, in full:

“My public schools budget demonstrates support of the recommendations brought forward by the Literacy Committee, on a variety of items, one of which recommended full-day kindergarten. The early years lay the foundation for learning. As the state’s educational leader, it is my goal to offer the best possible opportunities for children.  This effort must remain optional. Over 40 districts and charter schools across the state already take the opportunity to operate a full-day kindergarten either as an intervention service, or as a choice to parents — in the spirit of local control this should remain optional and is a decision best made by local districts and their communities.”