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Boise school board passes free full-day kindergarten, outlines COVID plan

During the district's board meeting Monday night, BSD passed free full-day kindergarten which will begin in the 2022-2023 school year.

BOISE, Idaho —

During the monthly school board meeting, Boise School District (BSD) unanimously approved free, full-day kindergarten throughout the district beginning in the 2022-2023 school year.

Currently, BSD offers tuition-based full-day kindergarten at only 20 of 32 elementary schools in the district. Idaho state currently provides school districts funding for half-day programs.

“This is one of the most rewarding votes I’ve cast since joining the Board,” said Dave Wagers, Board President. “The evidence is clear that full-day kindergarten is much more effective academically than half-day kindergarten. This investment in early childhood education will ensure an equitable and accessible kindergarten program for families across our district.”

BSD administrators estimate that moving to district-wide, full-day kindergarten will cost $2.7 million. Funding to set up 14 full-day kindergarten classrooms will come from local and state funding sources, along with a one-time donation from the Micki and dan Chapin Education Fund.

“We know that students’ literacy, math and social skills are much improved with a full-day of kindergarten,” said Coby Dennis, Boise Schools Superintendent. “Full-day kindergarten supports the schedule of working parents and teachers love the fact that they have more time for both instruction and intervention.”

During the board meeting, members also announced that since their last board meeting in December, they have developed a covid-19 endemic planning committee made up of parents, students, nurses, building administrators, BEA,  and district administrators.

As of Monday, the district stated that 295 staff members were out, with the ability to fill only 54 percent of those absences. 

The administration updated a plan for learning if the spread of COVID continues to deplete resources to the point where in-person learning cannot be held. The plan is a phased-in approach that would begin by sending individual classrooms to go remote, then if needed schools and, potentially, certain grades would go fully remote. The last phase would require that the entire district go fully remote.

The committee intends to have an updated covid-19 plan during the next BSD board meeting on Feb. 14.

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