BOISE — Governor Little has education as his top priority for the 2020 Legislative session, but one task force recommendation that didn't make his budget recommendation is all-day funded kindergarten.
$1.5 million coming from the J.A. Kathryn Albertson Family Foundation is creating an all-day kindergarten pilot program at 17 different schools.
"Most of these schools could not have all-day kindergarten without it, or they would have all-day kindergarten where they would charge parents for the halfway," said CEO of BLUUM Terry Ryan.
The education nonprofit, BLUUM, is implementing the pilot and working directly with the schools.
"We're then going to negotiate contracts with the individual schools, we're not going tell them what to do, but there will be a common expectation in terms of the assessment part of this," said Ryan.
Assessments all schools will participate in, including surveys for parents and teachers.
"Different curricular approaches, different ways they structure their classrooms, all that stuff in that regard we want to see as much diversity and experimentation as we can," said Ryan.
One school receiving the funding is Sage International School of Boise, which currently offers three all-day, tuition-based kindergarten classes and one free half-day program.
"Parents have to pay tuition to have a teacher in there all day, so we fill that second half of the day by having parents pay tuition, which to us is a barrier to some Idaho families," said executive director of Sage International Director of Schools Keith Donohue.
Next year, they'll have four full-day programs, all free. Also, with the funding, they can track their data and see how half-day and full-day compare for student outcomes.
"I feel confident we will see that those students who have that extra time in the classroom with an excellent educator will see improved scores over those that have that shorter day," said Donohue.
The list of schools participating in the pilot program are:
- Alturas International Academy (Idaho Falls)
- Anser Charter School (Garden City)
- Compass Public Charter School (Meridian)
- Forge International School (Middleton)
- Future Public Charter School (Garden City)
- Gem Prep: Meridian
- Gem Prep: Nampa
- Gem Prep: Meridian North
- Gem Prep: Pocatello
- Idaho Arts Charter School
- MOSAICS Public Charter School (Caldwell)
- North Idaho STEM (Rathdrum)
- Sage International (Boise)
- St. Ignatius (Meridian)
- Treasure Valley Classical Academy (Fruitland)
- Upper Carmen Charter School
- Island Park Charter School
Beyond the assessments, it's up to the schools to put kindergarten in action so they can learn and grow their programs in the future.
"I suspect some things that the schools do is going to work a lot better than other things, but that's part of what we're doing," said Ryan.
The J.A. and Kathryn Albertson Family Foundation is giving BLUUM the $1.5 million. In the past, the two have collaborated to create and expand 24 different schools across Idaho.