Meeker to offer option of all-day kindergarten

Meeker kindergarten students, from left, Devany Gaeta, Nevaeh Rowles and Melody Marquette looked at books last Friday.

MEEKER I School may be winding down for the year, but the Meeker School District is already making plans for next year.
One of the changes will be all-day kindergarten classes.
“We will be offering both half-day and a full-day option for kindergarten in the fall,” said Jason Hightower, principal of Meeker Elementary School.
All-day kindergarten will be something new for the Meeker School District.
“This will be a big change from what has been done in the past here,” Hightower said. “But it does represent movement toward what we believe is best for kids.”
On the other end of the county, Rangely doesn’t offer all-day kindergarten, but the change at Meeker follows what is becoming a trend in Colorado.
“Full-day kindergarten is becoming more and more common, even though the state does not fund anything other than half day,” Hightower said, adding school districts can make up the difference through increased taxes and charging tuition.
The Meeker principal said evidence suggests all-day kindergarten can be beneficial, especially for at-risk kids.
“The research points to strong positive effects for all students attending full-day programs, especially students who may be at risk for difficulty in school due to factors, such as learning problems, behavior problems, economic hardship and students whose home language is other than English.”
However, all-day kindergarten won’t replace the half-day option.
“There are valid reasons why a family might want their young student to attend a half-day program,” Hightower said. “In an effort to balance what we believe is best for kids and the families’ needs, we decided to offer both a full-day and a half-day option for kindergarten next year. … At this point, we do not have firm numbers of students who would be interested in the full-day program. Initially, we are planning on having one full-day class and two half-day classes. Depending on the number of families who would like to take advantage of the full-day format, we may need to adjust that to be two full-day and one half-day classes.”
As far as funding the all-day option, the district has established tuition fees.
“The full tuition for our full-day program is $250 per month,” Hightower said. “If a family qualifies for the Free and Reduced Lunch program, there will be a reduced rate. The tuition for a family that qualifies at the reduced lunch rate will be $125 per month. The tuition for those who qualify at the free lunch rate will be $75 per month. For those not familiar with that program, it basically is the measure by which economic hardship is determined for schools. It is a federal program.”
For more information about all-day kindergarten, visit http://www.cde.state.co.us/cpp/fulldayk.htm.

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