Seattle Public Schools to Offer Free Full-Day Kindergarten
Seattle Public Schools is eliminating the cost of attending full-day kindergarten this year at 16 schools, and hopes to reduce the kindergarten fees at all other elementary schools.
Thanks to a change in how the district can use $2.4 million in state dollars from the Learning Assistance Program (LAP), students in 16 additional schools will be able to attend kindergarten all day at no cost. Currently, there are 27 elementary schools that offer full-day kindergarten at no charge. Now students in a total of 43 schools will have free full-day kindergarten (out of 69 total elementary/K-8 schools).
In addition, students at all other elementary schools would – if approved by the School Board on Nov. 20 – see a reduction in the cost of full-day kindergarten this year, from $311 a month to $283, retroactive to Sept. 1, 2013. If approved, families will have the money credited back to their bank accounts by Jan. 31, 2014. Families who paid through PayPams by credit card will receive a refund check by Jan. 31. District accounting will discontinue withdrawing the kindergarten fees from families in the 16 additional fully-funded schools, effective immediately.
"We know that early learning is key to our students' success, and attending full-day kindergarten helps prepare our students academically and socially for the rest of their school career," said Cashel Toner, director of early learning for Seattle Public Schools. "This proposal means that an additional 770 students can take advantage of full-day kindergarten at no cost."
There are 35 students at the 16 additional schools who currently are only enrolled in half-day kindergarten. The district will reach out to those families to see if they want to consider full-day kindergarten.
The state currently funds full-day kindergarten for schools that are at 50 percent population of students who qualify for free and reduced price lunch. Seattle Public Schools will now offer it to all schools with 25 percent free and reduced price lunch.
Schools that currently have full-day kindergarten at no cost include: Bailey Gatzert, Beacon Hill International, Broadview-Thomson K-8, Concord International, Dearborn Park, Dunlap, Emerson, Graham Hill, Hawthorne, Highland Park, Kimball, Leschi, Wing Luke, Madrona K-8, Maple, Martin Luther King Jr., John Muir, Northgate, Olympic Hills, Pinehurst K-8, Rainier View, Roxhill, Sanislo, South Shore K-8, Thurgood Marshall, Van Asselt, West Seattle Elementary.
The following 16 schools will now offer free full-day kindergarten to families: Alki, Arbor Heights, BF Day, Gatewood, Greenwood, Jane Addams K-8, K-5 STEM at Boren, Lowell, Olympic View, Orca K-8, Pathfinder K-8, John Rogers, Sand Point, Stevens, Tops K-8 and Viewlands.
The Washington State Legislature has said the state will fully fund all-day kindergarten in all schools by 2017. Seattle Public Schools will set aside LAP funding to continue supplementing full-day kindergarten until 2017.