Our View: Funding hurdles are worth overcoming

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— The idea of bringing all-day kindergarten to the Steamboat Springs School District certainly isn't new, but we were nonetheless pleased to see the School Board discuss the possibility during a recent meeting. It's an idea we think could benefit local families and, most important, children.

As it stands, the school district offers half-day kindergarten classes that begin in the morning and afternoon. Many working families must find childcare for the other half of the day when their children aren't at school.

Steamboat's two public elementary schools offer half-day kindergarten programming because that's the limit to what the state will fund. In fact, Colorado doesn't require its school districts to offer any level of kindergarten programming.

But that doesn't mean they shouldn't, and district officials have taken appropriate steps to prepare for a future with all-day kindergarten. Specifically, the new Soda Creek Elementary School and renovations at Strawberry Park Elementary School will include additional kindergarten classrooms.

Of course, implementing the program isn't as easy as creating the space for it.

Cost will be the district's biggest hurdle to overcome. Fortunately, there are options worth consideration.

School Board member John DeVincentis suggested at a recent meeting that parents could pay the difference in cost between the half-day and all-day programs. District officials have estimated that cost at more than $200,000 a year.

"That comes out to be about $1,600 a year for full-day kindergarten, which is a bargain for working families compared to full-day day care," said DeVincentis, who noted many families pay as much as $55 a day for childcare. "Over the course of the year, that's one-tenth what they would have paid."

What about the families that can't afford childcare? It is those children who stand to lose the most.

Instead, the School Board should consider the following:

n Asking the Education Fund Board for the money. The Fund Board is expected to go to the voters next fall to renew the city's half-cent sales tax for education. That tax generates more than $2 million a year, nearly all of which is gifted to the school district for various programs. A campaign promise of providing money to fund all-day kindergarten could go a long way toward building voter support, and the relatively small price tag means there will be plenty of funds for other programs.

n Have the Fund Board consider offering all-day kindergarten scholarships for lower-income families.

n Going directly to the voters. New legislation allows the district to seek as much as a 1-mill tax increase specifically to fund all-day kindergarten programming.

Even with funding secured, obstacles will remain. Children participating in an all-day kindergarten program presumably would be let out of school around 3 p.m., leaving a couple of hours when many families still would need alternative day care.

But we're confident with a proper public process and planning, the district can and should make it work, and here's why: The biggest benefit to all-day kindergarten is educational. As we've said before, keeping children in one place for most of the day is safer and allows for more consistent instruction. Doubling the amount of instruction time for kindergarten students will leave them that much better prepared for entering the first grade and enjoying success throughout their school years.

That's a result we can all support.

Comments

beentheredonethat 7 years, 3 months ago

What about taking care of your own kids? Instead, parents would rather place them in any type of school or club or day care etc etc and let someone else raise their children. Poor excuse for parenting.

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jack legrice 7 years, 3 months ago

I fully believe in giving children every advantage we can. I fully support the idea of full day kindergarden. But if you can't afford a child DON"T HAVE ONE! I am not here to help support your lack of common sense. I had one, that is all I could afford. Paid for every bit of child care ,sports fees all the costs. Did not whine about the affordability of Steamboat Springs. My wife and I worked hard to provide. If you can't afford the all day. To bad. You shouldn't have put yourself in that position. Granted there are exceptions which deserve help. I am more than willing to support whatever funding will be required to see this idea become reality. PS please stop refering to Steamboat ,that is the ski area . We live in Steamboat Springs

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Matthew7_1_5 7 years, 3 months ago

I believe both parents in many households are working two jobs to maintain a home here in Steamboat. This isn't about parenting, it is about giving children an earlier start, making Steamboat more affordable for families with children, and trying to keep children in one location all day to reduce stress, cost, and need for transportation. Imagine where family dollars could be spent when it isn't all going to childcare in preschools. Releasing parents from this cost allows them to spend it in other ways in our community. That spending could benefit other local businesses that aren't in the day care business.

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sickofitall 7 years, 3 months ago

Most other towns have "full Day" Kindergarten programs. It is a good opportunity for kids to "get away" from thier parents and socialize. These are skills they will not learn at home.

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portagetheyampa 7 years, 3 months ago

Don't our children need to spend more time with their parents rather than "get away" from them?

Children should be learning their first socialization skills at home, not at school. After all, that is the job of good parents. Certainly, more exposure to peers can enhance and hone the skills they should already have learned at home.

I do think an all day kindergarten program would be beneficial because after all, "Everything I every really needed to know I learned in Kindergarten!"

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JQPUBLIC 7 years, 3 months ago

Matthew says "Imagine where family dollars could be spent when it isn't all going to childcare in preschools.".... I could spend my dollars just as well if they weren't going to raise your kids! We need to stop "the more kids you have the bigger the tax breaks" and start giving huge tax breaks to families with a stay at home parent. Parents need to take the time to teach their kids about morality, right from wrong, manners, and a little common sense before they throw them out into the world and start blaming society for their shortcomings. Also quit complaining that the teachers aren't doing their jobs, they are, they just aren't equipped to do yours. All of these extended education years, days, and hours are being demanded so that childcare will be paid for with public dollars, it's not for the "good of the children". What's next, tax funded child rearing facilities that take your children at birth, release them at 18 and allow the parents visiting rights when they find time? What is the object of having children if you don't want to raise them, the aforementioned tax breaks? Kids nowadays need parental supervision more than ever and all our tax dollars won't buy them love and parental guidance. oneski is right, there are exceptions which deserve help but it should be the exception and not the rule. If you don't have time to spend with your children and the money to care for them.... try birth control!

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