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Idaho is one of 10 states that doesn't offer public preschool, although two of those states are currently experimenting with pilot programs.Idaho lawmakers have long wrestled over whether to provide a public education to preschool-aged children. Idaho's conservative majority has resisted.But now, the debate could be revived because a freshman Democratic lawmaker has begun working on a plan to implement public pre-k.

Boise Expands Pre-K Program To Two New Schools This Year

Tom Michael, Boise State Public Radio
Students load buses outside Whittier Elementary, a new site for Pre-K this year.

A couple of Boise elementary schools have been piloting apre-K programsince 2015. Four years later, the program is expanding. In fact, twice as many Boise schools are now offering pre-K.


The pre-K program is a collaboration between the City of Boise, the Boise School District and a number of community partners. For the past four years, Hawthorne and Whitney elementary schools have hosted pre-K classes. And now, Garfield and Whittier elementary schools are also offering pre-K. 

“The focus is on literacy and math skills, but also they learn how to do school,” Stacey Roth with the Boise School District said. She explained that learning to “do school” means things like how to line up for recess, and how to act in a classroom. Roth said that pre-K graduates go on to share these skills – and their academic confidence – with their kindergarten classmates. 

“Kindergarten teachers have said, ‘Oh my gosh, now I had to revamp where I thought we were going to start!’ Which is a great thing,” Roth said. 

So not only is this program good for the pre-K-ers themselves, but Roth said the benefit is shared throughout the classroom.

“We’re thrilled to have it and were thrilled to be expanding it this year,” she said.

They’ll continue to track test scores and performance, and will soon have more information on how these kids fare going forward. Parents can apply with the form on Boise Public School’s website

For more local news, follow the KBSX newsroom on Twitter @KBSX915

Copyright 2019 Boise State Public Radio


Molly Wampler is a newsroom intern at Boise State Public Radio. Originally from Berkeley, California, she just graduated from the University of Puget Sound in Washington state. There, Molly worked for her university's newspaper but is stoked to try her hand at and learn all there is to learn about radio journalism.

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