When school resumes this year an additional 23,000 Washington kindergarteners will receive state-paid all-day instruction, thanks to the new state budget that provides an additional $174 million for full-day kindergarten.
Overall another $2.9 billion was invested into Washington's K-12 public schools.
"Studies shows that increased learning opportunities at an early age lead to higher long-term achievement, especially for low-income and minority children, along with improved reading skills and personal development," said Sen. Joe Fain, R-Auburn, who serves on the Senate Early Learning and K-12 Education Committee. "A better foundation and introduction to school will prepare children for better success at each grade, which will prepare them to compete for good jobs in the future."
Fain's district includes parts of five school districts, including Auburn, Kent, Tahoma, Federal Way and Enumclaw. Twenty-four new schools in those districts will now be able to offer state paid full-day kindergarten for the 2015-16 school year, a 63 percent increase in schools currently offering the program.
Auburn's Arthur Jacobsen, Hazelwood and Lake View elementary schools are receiving new full-day kindergarten funding. Kent schools receiving new full-day kindergarten funding are: Covington; Emerald Park; Fairwood; Glenridge; Horizon; Jenkins Creek; Martin Sortun; Meridian; Soos Creek; and Sunrise elementary schools.
"It's our responsibility to ensure all students receive a quality education," Fain said. "All-day kindergarten expansion is prioritized for schools with the most at-risk students from low-income and minority families, who are disproportionately left behind by our current education system. This will help students begin their academic career on the right track and ensure a child's academic achievement is not determined by their zip code."
The funding increase means 359 additional schools statewide will provide all-day kindergarten during the 2015-16 school year, a 76 percent increase over the 488 schools currently offering the added instructional time. The budget also includes funding to provide all-day kindergarten for all Washington children by the 2016-17 school year, one year ahead of the state's original goal.
Kindergarten curriculum includes initial development in reading, math and writing skills, learning to communicate, hands-on learning experiences, development of motor skills and social and emotional skills such as how to work well with others. Transitioning from half-day to full-day kindergarten means students who were receiving 450 hours of instructional time in the classroom will now spend 1,000 hours during the 180 day school year.