POULSBO — Free full-day kindergarten will be offered at all elementary schools in the North Kitsap School District for the 2015-16 school year.
The North Kitsap School Board approved free full-day kindergarten at the Jan. 8 school board meeting.
The district is projecting a cost of $854,484 to offer the free classes. That is a jump from the projected cost of $420,207 this year.
The district can expect an increase in enrollment in full-day kindergarten. “Every time we’ve dropped tuition, the full-day numbers have increased,” district spokeswoman Jenn Markaryan said. “We’ve been seeing that trend.” It is unknown how many full-day classes will be offered; that will depend on enrollment, Markaryan said.
The district offered 10 sections of full-day kindergarten for 2014-15, an increase from eight in 2013-14.
In December, the district reported an average enrollment of 22.4 students per full-day class.
The school board voted to lower full tuition for the 2014-15 school year from $2,290 to $1,500. Partial tuition, for those who qualify, was lowered from $1,145 to $750.
Because there will be no student tuition, the expectation is that more teachers, classified staff and materials will be needed, and the district is expecting its costs to double.
The board voted for free full-day kindergarten over reducing tuition in half. The cost to the district for reduced tuition would have increased to a projected $559,707, according to district documents. How funding is allocated for the program has not been finalized, according to Markaryan. The district will wait to see what funding comes from the state during the Legislature’s budget session. “I am excited to offer this opportunity to our community,” Superintendent Patty Page said in a released statement. “Supporting [full] day kindergarten for all students until the state does is a commitment to our future.”
The target year for the state to fully fund full-day kindergarten is 2017-18 for all Washington school districts.
Kindergarten registration for the 2015-16 school year begins March 2. The district encourages families to register at their neighborhood elementary school. To register, children must be 5 on or before Aug. 31. More information will be provided in mid-February, according to the district.