Idaho Falls planning for full-day kindergarten

IDAHO FALLS — The Idaho Falls School District is planning to bring free full-day kindergarten to all of its elementary schools, and trustees will consider a proposal later this month.

The district already offers full-day kindergarten at four elementary schools, it announced in a news release Thursday. A declining number of local students entering kindergarten “ready to learn” is a major reason for the proposed change.

Just 31% of the district’s kindergarteners were reading at grade level this fall, according to Idaho Reading Indicator scores. The state average on the same test was 41%.

“This is an investment to ensure our children start school with a strong foundation, and that they have all the support they need to be successful,” Idaho Falls Superintendent James Shank wrote in Thursday’s announcement.

Administrators presented some details about the plan to trustees during a board meeting Wednesday. One school that now offers full-day kindergarten, Temple View Elementary, attributes a high level of early-reading growth to its optional program.

Only 27% of Temple View’s kindergartners were at grade level on the 2020 Fall IRI, the district said, but the number had jumped to 74% when students took the Spring IRI.

The proposal would expand full-day kindergarten to all elementary schools, though it still needs approval from trustees — something they plan to consider during a Jan. 25 work session.

Parents would still have the option to participate, administrators said during Wednesday’s meeting. Funding the program would come from the district’s general funds, K-3 literacy, special education and title dollars, as well as federal COVID-19 relief funds and other grants.

The district also hopes state funds will come through, as outlined in Gov. Little’s State of the State address earlier this week.

District administrators, elementary school principals and a committee of kindergarten teachers spent months considering how to take the plan districtwide. They have “identified space in their schools,” analyzed staffing considerations, curriculum needs and researched other “furniture and technology needs,” the announcement said.

Parents can find more information about full-day kindergarten opportunities during spring registration.

Stay with EdNews for more on this developing story. 

Devin Bodkin

Devin Bodkin

EdNews assistant editor and reporter Devin Bodkin is a former high school English teacher who specializes in stories about charter schools and educating students who live in poverty. He lives and works in East Idaho. Follow Devin on Twitter @dsbodkin. He can be reached by email at [email protected].

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