D51 moving forward with full-day kindergarten, regardless of what happens at capital

MESA COUNTY, Colo. (KKCO/KJCT)-- Governor Jared Polis wants to spend more than $227 million to make full-day kindergarten a reality in Colorado.

School District 51 says whether the governor can make it happen or not, they're adding it to all schools next year but they'll have to pull from other resources.

As of right now, D51 offers full-day kindergarten for 12 of their 25 schools. It’s made possible through the READ Act, ECARE, and title funding. Parents have to pay out of pocket at two of the schools.

It’s the first year Loma Elementary School has offered full-day kindergarten.

"We always have writing time and we always have reading groups,” said Lily Knecht, Kindergartener at Loma.

Ms. Rena Kimball has been teaching at the school for the last 13 years. She says it’s hard to fit the state curriculum into two half-day classes, so the full day option has been very beneficial.

"As a teacher, I see a lot more growth in reading and in writing, the kids are going to be a lot more prepared for 1st grade… When we had half day it wasn't enough to pull the whole curriculum in I had to pick and choose what was important,” said Rena Kimball, Kindergarten teacher, Loma Elementary School.

School District 51 wants to expand the full day option to all of their elementary schools.

"We do want to move forward with full-day kindergarten it's going to be a stretch to do it for all students but we can do it for most,” said Scott Cooper, Assistant Superintendent, School District 51.

They say they're doing it no matter what the governor can make happen.

"We have the ability to fund most of the schools through intervention funds, title funds, READ act, ECARE those are three intervention funds that we currently use to facilitate kindergarten options for many of our students currently….but it puts a strain on every other intervention reading and math intervention that we do in the primary grades and when I say primary I am specifically talking about kindergarten through 3rd grade,” said Cooper.

The school district plans to start remodeling classrooms this summer. The D51 school board approved a million dollars to do that.

“So we already have a million dollars confirmed with our school board to remodel at least ten schools… We also need to purchase a lot of curriculum to get ready and furniture and there may be some schools who need some additions which would happen during the next school year and that would be another $2 million of capital funds,” said Cooper.

The bill was unanimously approved to advance to the House Appropriations Committee this week. It's the first public airing of the bill.