Cali Owings, Published May 28 2013
Moorhead to offer all-day kindergarten starting in the fallMOORHEAD – Schools here will offer all-day kindergarten effective this fall – a year before state funding for the program begins.
During a meeting Tuesday night, the school board unanimously approved plans to implement all-day kindergarten. The decision was met with applause from the district’s kindergarten teachers.
Most other area school districts already offer all-day kindergarten. Parents still have the option to enroll their students in the half-day program.
With the change, the district will also discontinue its Kinder Plus program, an optional half-day educational supplement that costs families up to $1,200 annually.
Last week, Minnesota Gov. Mark Dayton approved an education budget providing $134 million for free all-day kindergarten options in every school district effective for the 2014-15 school year.
To make the early move, Moorhead Area Public Schools will invest $1.2 million for the first year to hire 10 additional kindergarten teachers, cover additional teaching staff and update classrooms.
After the school begins receiving state funding for all-day kindergarten, Assistant Superintendent Wayne Kazmierczak estimated the program would cost the district $150,000 annually.
Proponents claim students enrolled in all-day kindergarten will reap benefits as their education progresses.
Superintendent Lynne Kovash said studies have shown mixed results, but he emphasized the community’s demand for full-day kindergarten.
Marc Hedlund and his wife planned to enroll their daughter at Robert Asp Elementary School this fall in the Kinder Plus program. Hedlund said he’s supportive of all-day kindergarten because of the learning benefits.
“At this age, the more she can be more around teachers and learning the better,” he said.
He and other parents also won’t need to find and pay for as much after-school child care – another benefit of the move.
His daughter, Annabelle, is currently enrolled in a full-day preschool at the Elim Children’s Center in south Fargo, so she “is already used to being at school for a full day,” Hedlund said.
While the board unanimously supported the move, some specifics are yet to be determined.
The district will contact parents who’ve already enrolled their children for the 2013-14 school year and allow them to choose half- or full-day enrollment.
Based on the number of parents who choose to opt out of full-day instruction, Kazmierczak said they will decide how many half-day sections to offer, if any. That information will also determine where kindergarten classes are offered and whether the mid-day bus service will be eliminated.
Readers can reach Forum reporter Cali Owings at (701) 235-7311