Central Idaho County Using Creative Workaround To Fund All-Day Kindergarten

Nov 30, 2018

Two schools in Minidoka County are using funds meant for teachers to subsidize all-day kindergarten. A third school in the county offers daylong kindergarten for $11 per day.
Credit woodleywonderworks / Flickr

Minidoka County is taking a new approach to funding kindergarten for some of its youngest students.

In Idaho, the state doesn’t provide any funding to schools for full-day kindergarten. Earlier this month, the Idaho School Boards Association passed a resolution calling for the state legislature to change that. For the next two legislative sessions, they’ll lobby for state funding.

By way of a workaround, Minidoka County is funding all-day kindergarten at two schools. They’re using state money intended for teachers to provide the early education option. According to the Times News, one of the kindergarten programs in the pilot case is for English as Second Language students and kids struggling with reading.

Heather Hepworth, the principal at Acequia Elementary, says investing the teacher money on kindergarten will pay off for students later in their academic careers. She says if students are falling behind even by third grade, it’s usually too late for them to recover.

Hepworth says the status quo isn’t working, so why not try something different? She’s excited to see how this group of students advances through school with the all-day kindergarten foundation.

The future of the program isn’t clear since it’s contingent on how much money the school is allocated for teachers next year.

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