How much will full-day kindergarten cost?

On the agenda for the Eugene 4J school board tonight is approving the implementation of full-day kindergarten, officially moving the 4J district towards a full-day transition in the 2015-2016 school year.

Full-day kindergarten may help close the achievement gap in Oregon, according to an “item for action” memo on 4J’s website:

Fifty percent (50%) of Oregon children are born into economically disadvantaged families and 40% of Oregon children have additional factors that put them at risk of academic failure and under-education. Approximately 40% of children enter kindergarten with development typical of three and four year olds.
These children will have to make two years of academic growth for three consecutive years to meet reading standard by the end of 3rd grade, a key
predictor of academic and life success. Nationally, only 15% of students who require remediation beyond 3rd grade ever reach proficiency. School districts spend, on average, $64,000 more per student over thirteen years of schooling for remediation that most often fails to achieve its objective.
As Oregon school districts focus on closing the achievement gap between different socioeconomic and ethnic groups, a breadth of research documents that early childhood is a potent time to prevent achievement gaps from developing or becoming entrenched. Numerous studies indicate that full-day kindergarten can lead to improved academic achievement and may help close the achievement gap among disadvantaged children. By reducing the need for future remediation and/or retention, the investment in full-day kindergarten can also lower subsequent schooling costs.

The recommendations report says that an additional $218 million will be needed to implement full-day kindergarten around the state of Oregon. Costs vary from district to district, depending on the amount of extra staff needed and how much additional facilities space is required to accomodate for the switch.

The report says that according to a survey of Oregon school superintendents earlier this year, 20 percent of the 100 districts responding reported needing extra classroom space.

As an example of estimated costs, the report lists potential expenditures related to full-day kindergarten implementation for the Springfield School District. The report says the district could need up to $5.8 million for facilities upgrades and around $2 million for additional teachers or assistants.

However, how the state of Oregon will provide this money has concerned Lane County school districts, and it seems that funding for full-day kindergarten is still not firmed up, according to the 4J memo:

Budget implications are not yet clearly defined. The Governor’s budget recommendation will help to support full-day implementation. However, the legislature must first determine that it will approve the additional funds necessary to expand half-day programs to full-day programs.

The full report can be found here.

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