Task force subcommittee endorses expanding all-day kindergarten

A second K-12 education task force subcommittee wrapped up its work Monday after putting its weight behind a recommendation for greater access to all-day kindergarten.

The rural and underserved schools subcommittee of Gov. Brad Little’s “Our Kids, Idaho’s Future” task force voted unanimously to send three recommendations forward to the full task force. They include:

  • Rewarding and incentivizing collaboration for rural, remote and underserved schools to improve student opportunities and outcomes.
  • Increasing access to industry-aligned career-technical education (CTE) programs in rural and remote districts.
  • Increasing opportunities for optional, all-day kindergarten.

Currently, kindergarten is optional in Idaho and the state pays for half-day classes. In recent years, more districts have offered some form of all-day kindergarten. At least 81 of 115 districts now offer it to at least some students, Idaho Education News reported earlier this month.

Much of Monday’s meeting focused on ways small, rural and remote districts can leverage resources and partnerships in an attempt to offer programs similar to those in larger districts located near population centers.

“The whole idea really circles around equity and providing everything possible we can do for our kids,” Butte County school board member Karen Pyron said.

Last week, the educator pipeline subcommittee became the first task force to finalize its recommendations and wrap up its  summer work. That subcommittee approved two recommendations on Thursday:

  • Increasing pay for veteran teachers by building out a third “rung” of the career ladder salary program to pay out $60,000. This buildout would likely occur over multiple years due to limited financial resources.
  • Continuing to expand statewide professional development training opportunities for educators to help them grow professionally and increase student achievement.

The two remaining task force subcommittees are expected to finish their work this week as well. On Oct. 1, members of each of the four subcommittees will present their recommendations to the full task force.

Other potential recommendations include:

  • A new school accountability system laser-focused on growth in K-3 literacy rates, as measured by the Idaho Reading Indicator (IRI) test.
  • Increasing the balance of, and minimizing withdrawals from, state savings accounts in order to help the state weather a potential economic recession.

The school facilities and school safety task force subcommittee meets Wednesday in Boise.

The full “Our Kids, Idaho’s Future” task force meets Oct. 1 in Moscow.


Clark Corbin

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