Task Force subcommittee may call for all-day kindergarten

A subcommittee of Gov. Brad Little’s K-12 task force started developing a potential recommendation for all-day kindergarten Tuesday.

All-day kindergarten is already gaining traction under Little’s literacy initiative. Using increased funding for literacy, Nampa, Caldwell and Vallivue school districts are transitioning to tuition free, all-day kindergarten, Idaho EdNews has reported.

Juan Alvarez, left, and Greg Wilson, help the Rural and Underserved Schools subcommittee narrow its recommendations Tuesday.

As the law now stands, kindergarten is entirely optional and the state only pays for half a day. Districts aren’t even required to offer it.

Expanding to all-day would cost money, as many districts would need additional space and kindergarten teachers.

Task force members said all-day kindergarten is a strategy for boosting kindergarten through third grade reading scores. In his first year on the job, Little has already made early literacy a major initiative, having convinced the Legislature to double literacy intervention funding.

The Rural and Underserved School Districts subcommittee also began piecing together two other potential recommendations Tuesday:

  • Rewarding and incentivizing collaboration between districts to capitalize on economies of scale.
  • Expanding delivery of career-technical education (CTE) programs, especially to rural areas.

“The goal today is trying to get to a very small subset of preliminary recommendations that really get us focused,” said Juan Alvarez, Idaho National Laboratory’s deputy director for management and operations and the co-chairman of the rural schools subcommittee.

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Tuesday’s initial proposals come as the task force and its subcommittees are ramping up in advance of a fall deadline. Committee recommendations are due Oct. 1. Just as Little called for, the recommendations are centering on early literacy and college and career readiness.

  • On Monday, the K-12 Budget Stability task force began developing recommendations, including increasing state education savings accounts.
  • Last week, the full task force began piecing together a new accountability system to focused exclusively on K-3 literacy test growth.
  • And the Teacher Pipeline Subcommittee may propose building out a top “rung” on Idaho’s career ladder salary program to pay out $60,000. Currently, the amount the state pays districts for teachers caps out at $50,000 with the career ladder.

Next up, the full “Our Kids, Idaho’s Future” task force meets Sept. 13 in Pocatello.

The Rural and Underserved Schools subcommittee meets again Sept. 23.

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