Full Day Kindergarten becoming a Possibility


Photo Credit: Brian Myrick

Kids participate in full day kindergarten in the Boise School District.

On January 11th, the Boise School District released a statement informing parents that they will be offering free full-day kindergarten. Before this announcement, the Boise School District only offered free half-day kindergarten and paid full day for about $250 a month. At the moment two schools in the district offer free full days, but the board is hoping to extend this throughout the Boise area. 

The state of Idaho joins together with 8 other states that do not require kindergarten as a mandatory class. Part of this is due to the age that is mandatory for elementary school. Many states require children to be in school by the age of 6, requiring by age instead of grade means that kindergarten is missed. Some lawmakers in Idaho have been trying to push a bill that allows optional, but free full day kindergarten. This bill could help the Boise School District receive extra funds to help them with their plan to get full day kindergarten for all.

At the moment, it is predicted to cost $2.7 million to make this plan happen. The money would go to hiring new teachers and creating new classrooms for the future kindergarteners. But with the help of legislation, some of this money could be funded by the state. The precise number needed to make this plan happen will be known at the end of the school year, when the Boise School DIstrict Board creates the budget plan for the 2022-2023 school year. This money could easily be found from the predicted surplus of the Idaho budget. It is predicted to be around a record-breaking $1.6 billion. 

The question of free full day kindergarten funded by the state has come up due to a case the Supreme Court has been dealing with. Parents in the West Ada School district brought up the case by saying that paid full day kindergarten was unconstitutional in the Idaho constitution. In the constitution, “to establish and maintain a general, uniform, and thorough system of public, free common schools.” Although the Idaho Supreme Court ruling placed the question back into the District Courts’ hands, West Ada has been chastised for having unequal forms of kindergarten education for those who can afford it and those who cannot.

The Kindergarten question in legislation has support on both sides, however some are weary of the changes it could cause. Representative Wendy Horman from Idaho Falls is worried about the sustainability of using the surplus on bills passed in support of free full day kindergarten. 

Kindergarten teachers are very excited by the announcement of this news because of the benefits that are offered through full-day kindergarten. Full day kindergarten can lead to a less rushed environment for many students. They get used to what a normal day of elementary school looks like and they can be more prepared for the following years as they go into first grade knowing the basics of how to read and write.Many students go into elementary school unprepared, many first graders are under the reading grade level.

It is very exciting to see the progress that the Boise School District is making, and it will be interesting to see how this develops over the next few months especially with major support and talk in the Capitol.