All-Day, Everyday Kindergarten Has Momentum at Minnesota Capitol
Senate and House leaders seem to be in agreement with Gov. Mark Dayton on the idea of funding all-day, everyday kindergarten programs across Minnesota. St. Michael-Albertville leaders also support the idea, if it's fully funded.
Momentum seems to be gathering at the Minnesota State Capitol for a funded, all-day kindergarten program.
Leadership from the Minnesota Senate and House are in lockstep with Gov. Mark Dayton, who as said since his State of the State address he would be making full day programs a priority in 2013.
Sen. Chuck Wiger, a leader in the DFL-controlled Senate, agreed. Early this session, he said said the funding would provide “an important step toward enhancing Minnesota’s commitment to quality education for all children.”
The House budget, unveiled Tuesday, includes funding for all-day programs for "any district that wants it."
The State Senate's version of the budget includeds more than $485 million in education spending, the bulk allocated to fund all-day kindergarten.
Currently, districts from St. Michael-Albertville and Maple Grove in the Twin Cities metro to Moorhead in the western part of the state offer a tuition-based kindergarten program that offers full-day programming.
St. Michael-Albertville Schools came out in favor of SF2 and HF105 in its legislative platform, saying a tuition-based all day program "creates an opportunity gap for students, often for those who come to school without school readiness skills or need extra time to master reading and math."
Some districts, however, including Minneapolis, are discussing defunding all-day programs in part or entirely and returning to a half-day offering because of costs.
Burnsville-Savage, meanwhile, recently became the first district in the metro area to cover the cost of the full-day program and offer it to district residents only.
The state Department of Education estimates about six in 10 students in full-day programs. About $2,200 in the so-called per pupil payments would be required in state money to fund programs.
Education Minnesota, the state's largest teachers' union, said the DFL's unity behind full-day kindergarten is a step in the right direction.
“Leaders clearly listened to Minnesotans, who have said that the state should invest in small class sizes; free, all-day, every day, kindergarten; and a strong higher education system,” said Tom Dooher, president of Education Minnesota. “These kind of investments are precisely what Minnesota needs to create the nation’s best workforce.”