Starting next fall, all-day, everyday kindergarten likely will be offered to every kindergartner in the Brainerd School District, but there will be a cost to parents at three of the eight elementary schools if they choose to enroll their children for the additional days.
The Brainerd School Board finance committee Tuesday recommended that the board authorize a $70,000 expenditure in the 2005-06 budget to add all-day, every-day kindergarten next fall at each elementary school. The full-time program is now offered at no cost to parents at Harrison, Garfield, Whittier and Lincoln elementary schools. State funding helps fund the Harrison program while federal funds are used at Garfield because of the high number of students at the schools who receive free or reduced lunches, said Assistant Superintendent Gary Phillips.
The proposal presented to the finance committee would add the program at no cost to parents at Lowell Elementary School, another school that administrators believe would benefit from all-day, every-day kindergarten.
In order to offer all-day kindergarten at the remaining elementary schools, the district would then adopt a "pay as you go" option for all-day kindergarten at Baxter, Nisswa and Riverside elementary schools, said Phillips. Parents would pay to send their children to kindergarten on the days they normally wouldn't have class and this program would be operated separately through Brainerd Community Education.
Phillips said the targeted cost for parents to enroll their children in the all-day program would be about $250 a month, comparable to most daycare costs, but it would include an educational component. Community education would hire staff to run the program so kindergartners would not have the same teachers as in their regular classrooms, he said.
Phillips said all-day, everyday kindergarten is only an option now because of the opening of Forestview Middle School. Since all fifth-graders will attend Forestview next fall, there will be vacated space at the elementary schools to offer kindergarten every day, said Phillips. He said if the program does need additional space because of its popularity, kindergarten classes could be offered at Washington Educational Services Building.
JODIE TWEED can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 855-5858.
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