Spokane schools ready for switch to all-day kindergarten

SPOKANE, Wash. - All-day kindergarten

As students across Spokane Public Schools are getting in one last weekend before they had back to class, teachers are already busy across the district preparing for full-day kindergarten.

It's a big move to say the least. Previously only 15 of the district's elementary schools had all-day kindergarten. In May the school board voted to bring full-day kindergarten to the district's 34 elementary schools.

Since that decision teachers have been hired, classrooms reorganized all in preparation for the first day of school next Tuesday.

At Franklin Elementary School, inside classroom 108, Beth Calkins is putting the finishing touches on her kindergarten classroom. The tables are ready, school supplies out and books in place. Now all she needs is 24 new students.

"I'm very excited about this full day kindergarten, I think we are going to have a lot of fun and I think it's going to give us time to play a little more," Calkins said.

The two and a half hour school day is now six hours.

Calkins is making the switch from second grade to kindergarten because of the district's move to all-day kindergarten.

"Kids will have all kinds of experiences that they didn't have time for before, I think we have an opportunity to do a little more outdoor learning, they will have a lot more time to be hands-on with material they will continue to use as they go through their academic career," she said.

District Superintendent Dr. Shelley Redinger, who worked in other states that had full-day kindergarten, said it makes a huge difference.

"I really saw, our students need that, that boost, it makes such a difference academically, it helps with graduation rates, helps with drop out rate," Redinger said.

The switch comes with a $3 million price tag with the state footing a good portion of the bill. The move also meant the district had to hire 20 new teachers and adopt new curriculum.

"We are really excited about it, really making sure students have a strong foundation in reading and writing, another one will be mathematics, making sure they know their numbers," Redinger said.

It's all about giving kids the tools they need to succeed in school even at just five years old.

"It's just going to be an extra bonus for them," Calkins said.

To help the kindergarteners ease into a full school day for the first week of school all the district's kindergarten classes will be half day. Teachers will use the afternoon time to meet with parents.