Starting this fall, Hathaway Elementary School will offer full-day kindergarten at no additional out-of-pocket costs to parents.
The funding is a step toward compliance with the Supreme Court McCleary decision, which mandates lawmakers must fully fund basic education, including kindergarten, by 2018.
Grants for full-day kindergarten at schools with the highest rates of poverty will be first priority.
In Washougal, Hathaway was the only school to qualify, with a free- and reduced-price lunch rate of approximately 62.7 percent, compared with 34 percent at Gause Elementary and 32.5 percent at Cape Horn-Skye Elementary. There were no schools in Camas which qualified.
Laura Bolt, Hathaway principal, said she’s been waiting, “a long time,” for full-day kindergarten at the school. In 2007, the state Legislature granted some funding for schools to offer full-day kindergarten, but Hathaway didn’t make the cut because free- and reduced-price meals needed to be 80 percent or higher.
That changed on June 30, when Gov. Jay Inslee signed the state operating budget that funds full-day kindergarten for 43.75 percent of students in both the 2013-14 and 2014-15 school year.
“It feels great to know our students will be given this enriching opportunity because so much more learning will take place,” Bolt said.
She plans to add two more teachers and has a classroom ready with new tables and chairs, a reading table, and an area rug for group work.
“The new teachers and I will visit Hathaway’s basement to find (other) usable items we have in storage,” she said. “The classroom will be beautiful, completely furnished and equipped for a fantastic early childhood environment.”
Earlier this year, the Washougal School District studied classroom space at each school to determine if there was capacity and funding for full-day kindergarten at all schools.
“At that time, the district did not feel that the budget could afford full day kindergartens at all schools, Superintendent Dawn Tarzian said. “The full-day program will only be available at Hathaway for the coming year as a result of the funding from the state. I am sure that the School Board will be discussing implementing full-day kindergarten at Gause and Cape Horn-Skye Elementary in the coming years.”
The district will have minor expenses preparing the classrooms to support an all-day program, but the state is paying the rest.
“I could not be happier that we will be implementing a full-day kindergarten program at Hathaway and am appreciative of the state for making this funding a priority,” Tarzian said. “The opportunity to attend school five full days a week will have a substantial impact on the academic and social development of the young children attending the school. Principal Bolt has been a strong advocate for the program and she worked closely with the state and our local legislators this spring to keep the funding for this program a priority.”
The Washougal School District has a boundary transfer policy for those parents interested in having children at other schools attend full-day kindergarten at Hathaway. Transfers are approved based on available space. Information can be found at www.washougal.k12.wa.us.