Sequim planning for all-day kindergarten starting with 2015-16 school year

By Joe Smillie
Peninsula Daily News

SEQUIM –– The Sequim School Board has agreed to plan for all-day kindergarten to begin in the 2015-16 school year.

The school district's board of directors agreed Monday night to continue to hold off offering all-day kindergarten until then.

“We have this list of obstacles that make it extremely challenging to get it implemented,” Superintendent Kelly Shea said.

“This gives us this year and next year to get everything in place.”

The state offered funding for Sequim to begin offering all-day kindergarten for the current school year last July, but the district opted not to take the money, citing a lack of space and inequity between its two elementary schools, Helen Haller and Greywolf.

“If we would have taken that money last July, we wouldn't have had a place to put the children on the first day of school,” Shea said.

The state superintendent's office likely will not offer funding for all-day kindergarten for the coming school year, Shea said.

He hoped more funding will be available in the next biennium.

“At which time, we believe both Haller and Greywolf will be able to get funding,” Shea said.

A place of their own

Putting the program off another year gives the district time to prepare for more students, Shea said.

The state's offer from last year was $240,000.

Shea said that wouldn't have covered the cost of adding space, much less hiring additional teachers and buying additional teaching materials.

“Everything gets doubled up when you make the switch to all-day,” Shea said.

Sequim currently uses five classrooms for its half-day kindergarten classes at each school, with space shared by the morning and afternoon sessions.

That, Shea said, allows the district to teach 40 kindergartners in a class each day.

“Full-day kindergarten, you would only be able to put 20 children in a classroom in one day,” he said.

The school plans to purchase one portable classroom out of the 2013-14 budget and two more from next year's budget to accommodate all-day classes the following fall.

Two of those will be placed at Helen Haller on the district's main campus. The third will be at Greywolf in Carlsborg.

Each building provides space for two classrooms and costs approximately $100,000 to have delivered and set up.

Elementary inequity

Another factor in the district's decision to decline funding for this year was a lack of funding for Greywolf Elementary.

“With just two elementary schools in the district, we didn't want to have that inequality in programming,” Shea said.

Port Angeles, Chimacum and Brinnon school districts on the North Olympic Peninsula added all-day kindergarten classes this school year.

Port Townsend failed to qualify for state aid but does offer an optional full-day class paid for by parents on a sliding scale.

Cape Flattery, Crescent, Quilcene and Quillayute Valley schools already were providing all-day kindergarten classes before this school year.

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Sequim-Dungeness Valley Editor Joe Smillie can be reached at 360-681-2390, ext. 5052, or at jsmillie@peninsuladailynews.com.

Last modified: March 04. 2014 7:42PM
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