Beginning this upcoming school year, the Lake Washington School District (LWSD) will now be able to provide full-day kindergarten at no extra cost for families.
In past years, the district has offered state-funded half-day kindergarten and parents have had the option to pay for the second half of the school day. That meant some students attended half-day kindergarten while others attended for the full day. This year, all elementary schools in LWSD will provide full-day kindergarten, funded by the state.
Kathryn Reith, communications director for LWSD, said the state funding is part of the state Legislature’s response to the McCleary decision, which found that the state was not fully funding K-12 education.
Last year, four elementary schools were able to offer tuition-free full-day kindergarten and now, all 27 neighborhood elementary schools in the district as well as two choice schools will offer this to families.
Reith added that full-day kindergarten is being funded statewide, not just at LWSD.
Sue Anne Sullivan, director of school support for LWSD’s Redmond learning community, said they are not sure how many kindergarten classrooms they will have as the district is still in the middle of finalizing enrollment.
“Everything is still fluid,” Reith added.
Both she and Sullivan said full-day kindergarten is a voluntary program, meaning the district also provides parents with a part-day kindergarten option.
As LWSD faces ongoing overcrowding issues, the addition of state-funded full-day kindergarten does eat up classrooms, Reith said it wasn’t as if the district was not offering this option to parents in previous years. In addition, she said LWSD’s Long-Term Facilities Planning Task Force did take into consideration the fact that there would be more kindergarten classrooms needed when planning and making its recommendations.
The first day of school and classes for kindergarten will be Sept. 9, while grades 1-12 begin school on Sept. 6.
According to an LWSD press release, kindergarten families will meet with their students’ teachers in a Family Connection meeting on Sept. 6, 7 or 8. During these meetings, teachers will get to know the families and learn about their incoming students. They can address any concerns or questions about the transition into kindergarten. Families get a chance to meet the teacher. They can share their children’s interests, strengths, fears and other characteristics. Parents will be contacted by their school to schedule a Family Connection meeting time.
The release states that these family meetings are part of the Washington Kindergarten Inventory of Developing Skills (WaKIDS).
By Oct. 31, according to the release, teachers will observe and record each child’s developing skills in six areas: social-emotional, physical, cognitive, language, literacy and mathematics. This information can help teachers better meet the needs of each child.
Staff will also work with early learning professionals serving this area. Their goal is to support smooth transitions for children from preschool to kindergarten.
“Full-day kindergarten and the WaKIDS process helps us to better serve all kindergarten students in our district,” noted Superintendent Dr. Traci Pierce in the release. “We are pleased that we will be able to provide a full day kindergarten experience to all students.”