The West Ada School District will begin offering free, full-day kindergarten at all elementary schools next school year, dropping tuition from the program.
The decision, announced by the district Saturday, comes just over a week after Gov. Brad Little signed into law a $47 million increase in state K-3 literacy funding, meant to give districts the option of fielding full-day programs. West Ada, Idaho’s largest district, is the latest in a growing list to announce expanded kindergarten offerings after the funding boost was cemented.
On its website, West Ada touted full-day kindergarten’s ability to “create a strong foundation for learning that promotes all areas of a child’s development in an environment that supports learning through relationships, play, exploration and inquiry.”
Currently, West Ada students can attend half-day kindergarten for free, just like other students throughout the state. But families have to pay to send their students to kindergarten all day.
That has been the subject of an ongoing lawsuit against the district, in which past kindergarten parents are challenging West Ada on the grounds that only offering full-day kindergarten to families who can afford it violates the Idaho Constitution’s mandate that public schools be “general, uniform and thorough.” The Idaho State Supreme Court sent that case back to district court in November of 2021, for it to reconsider whether students left out of the program suffered an “educational injury,” EdNews reported.
West Ada has offered full-day, tuition-paid kindergarten at select elementary schools since 2014.
The suburban district, spanning Meridian, Eagle and Star, will join the Boise, Twin Falls and Idaho Falls school districts in offering free, full-day programs at all elementary schools for the first time next fall.
KTVB first reported the news.
A West Ada spokesperson did not respond to questions from EdNews Monday.