Osseo School District calls for all-day kindergarten funding

Six schools offer universal full-day K

Six schools offer universal all-day kindergarten in the Osseo School District.

The district would like to change that, but doesn’t expect to do so unless it receives more state funding for the program.

“There’s good evidence to show that all-day kindergarten helps students, particularly students who are at risk … to be ready for first grade,” Assistant Supt. Kim Riesgraf said.

Riesgraf said all-day kindergarten also helps close the achievement gap between students of color and white students and should improve long-term graduation rates.

The district currently provides free, full-day kindergarten for students at Crest View, Fair Oaks, Garden City, Palmer Lake, Park Brook and Zanewood. Those buildings see the highest concentration of poverty based on the number of students eligible for free and reduced lunches. Other buildings in the district offer tuition-based options for extended kindergarten hours.

The extra expense at the six locations with universal all-day kindergarten is split between the district and the school. The school pays its share using compensatory aid – revenue from the state that goes to specific sites based on the number of students eligible for free and reduced lunch.

But Riesgraf says there are students across the district that would benefit from the service.

That’s why the district’s legislative platform calls for the state to offer full funding for all-day kindergarten for every student. But the district believes the program should be optional so school boards and families have flexibility based on their specific needs.

“That’s our stance, which is more than the governor’s proposal,” Riesgraf said.

Nevertheless, the district would welcome the added kindergarten funding in the governor’s budget.

“We have a plan that we haven’t been able to implement that we’ve been phasing in over time,” Riesgraf said.

If new funding came through, the district would review whether it could afford to expand kindergarten offerings at other locations, Riesgraf said.

The most recently added site for the program was Palmer Lake Elementary in Brooklyn Park, which started providing universal full-day kindergarten two years ago.

For more information the kindergarten options the Osseo district offers, go to district279.org/parents/Kindergarten.