SPOKANE, Wash. – Next week parents will register their kids for kindergarten in Spokane Public Schools (SPS). The district hopes those young students will be going to full-day kindergarten when they start school in the fall.
Right now, 15 of 34 Spokane public elementary schools offer full-day kindergarten. The district wants to expand full-day kindergarten district-wide, but the biggest obstacle is funding it: it would cost between $3.3 and $3.5 million.
SPS finance executive director Linda McDermott said the ability to fund it depends on the outcome of the legislature. One decision the board already made is that it will not use tuition to fund it because it decided Spokane is not a community that can afford it.
“Considering our school district and the demographics of our school district, that is not a viable option in our minds,” McDermott said. “We’re approaching that if we provide kindergarten in more schools next year, it will be provided to all students and we won’t have a tuition-based model.”
In the absence of state money, the district will have to see if there is room within its existing budget to expand full-day kindergarten to at least a few more schools. If that’s the case, it will start with the schools with the highest poverty levels.
Until the legislative piece of the budget is decided, parents should proceed to register their kids for kindergarten as normal on Monday, March 4. If they’re in a school with half-day kindergarten, as soon as the district knows whether it can expand it to full-day it will notify families and schools.
That news will likely come in late spring, possibly even June.