Opinion editorial by Bruce Chandler: All-day kindergarten expanded in Yakima Valley

 

Many parents have been or will soon be enrolling their children in school for the fall. For parents of future kindergartners, now is the time to get them engaged and excited about school and learning.

There is consistent support for all-day kindergarten being more beneficial for students than half-day kindergarten. Not only do all-day kindergarten students have time for more in-depth instruction, but they experience increased group learning and a greater English vocabulary than those who attend for half the day. The greatest benefits have been shown for disadvantaged students. Of course, it is parents' choice whether to place their children in half- or full-day kindergarten. However, the benefits to students are compelling for the state to at least offer more full-day kindergarten classes.

In my last column, I shared with you why I voted for the budget in this year's legislative session. It included a court-mandated increase in education spending. The Legislature increased education spending overall by $1 billion, but targeted the dollars toward proven programs that result in better outcomes for students and more support for teachers.

One of these proven programs, statewide and in the Yakima Valley, is all-day kindergarten. This year's session, we increased funding to all-day kindergarten by $90 million statewide. This results in about 44 percent of kindergarten students having access to all-day kindergarten for the next two years, providing for more than 17,000 new students.

In the Yakima Valley, 11 schools will offer new all-day kindergarten classes. Six of these schools are located in the 15th District:

  • Nob Hill Elementary (Yakima School District);
  • Moxee Elementary (East Valley School District);
  • East Valley Elementary (East Valley School District);
  • Outlook Elementary (Sunnyside School District);
  • Robert S. Lince Elementary (Selah School District); and,
  • Hilton Elementary (Zillah School District).

These school districts join 26 other schools in the 15th District who already offer full-day kindergarten. This is great news for parents and students, who get a better start at reading, writing and motor skills necessary for their future years in school. For taxpayers, this additional state funding should mean there is less pressure on local levies to fund programs that should be the state's responsibility. Full-day kindergarten is a small piece of the budget that prioritizes education and represents a critical first step to improving our education system for students, parents, teachers and taxpayers.

Rep. Bruce Chandler represents the 15th Legislative District, which includes east Yakima County.

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Washington State House Republican Communications
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