The White Bear Lake Area Public Schools has made a late move to offer free all-day, every-day kindergarten to families beginning this fall — making it the fourth Washington County area school district to embrace a no-cost plan.
Until now, families had expected to pay $2,700 to enroll students in the district’s current fee-based, all-day program. But the school board decided on March 11 to make an all-day option free to everyone.
All-day kindergarten will be available at each of the district’s eight elementary sites. A half-day option also will be offered at Matoska International IB World School and at Hugo, Lincoln and Otter Lake elementary schools, the district said.
Board Member Lori Swanson said in a news release that providing free all-day kindergarten “is something we as a board have wanted to do for a number of years. Administration has diligently worked to build a sustainable financial plan that will support the rich curricular opportunities for our students.”
An all-day program is expected to give students greater access to specialists in the areas of music, media, physical education and world language. In addition, the district envisions the all-day strategy as a way to meet its goal of having children be proficient in reading and math by the fourth grade.
Kindergarten information is available at the district’s website.
The North St. Paul-Maplewood-Oakdale School District has offered free all-day kindergarten for seven years. It reports that 82.5 percent of third-graders who attended all-day kindergarten in the district were proficient in math in 2012, compared with 69 percent of students who did not attend kindergarten in the district. Free all-day kindergarten also is available in the Stillwater Area Public Schools.
Last December, the Forest Lake Area Schools agreed to spend about $500,000 to make all-day kindergarten free to everyone beginning in 2013-14.
The developments leave the South Washington County and Mahtomedi school districts as the only local public school systems to continue to charge for all-day programs.
Park High hoopsters join to fight diabetes
Members of the Park High School boys’ and girls’ basketball teams raised more than $4,000 for the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation (JDRF) during a February fundraiser that included a “Free Throw-A-Thon.”
Larissa Lurken, a guard on the girls’ team, led all players with a 92 percent free throw completion percentage, according to a South Washington County news release.
The teams also sold JDRF shoes and T-shirts during school lunch periods and before home games.
The district said the teams have raised more than $8,400 in the two years they’ve worked on behalf of JDRF. All proceeds go to helping find a cure for type 1 diabetes.
Information about how to get involved is available on the group’s website.