District considers all-day kindergarten

State Legislature could make it a requirement

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At some point in the not-to-distant future, all-day kindergarten could be required from every school district in the state.

In an effort to prepare for this, the Washougal School District conducted an informal building capacity study at all of its schools.

All of the schools are currently well below design capacity, but utilizing that space would mean making decisions on how to use that space most effectively. Design capacity is defined as all places where a teaching station could be placed.

“The district has to decide what is protected educational space,” said Dawn Tarzian, superintendent. “Such as, music will have a space, but art will be taught in the regular classroom. If we have an influx of kids, we need to make decisions on where they will go. Sometimes you see classrooms on a stage or in the cafeteria, and we have to decide how long we’ll run things until capacity is reached and we need to expand. We need to get the kids out of those portables and build the space to fit the capacity needs.”

The state Legislature has discussed an all-day kindergarten requirement as a part of the first phase of fully funding public education, but no definite timeline has been put in place.

“Planning and knowing what we can do or would need to do to have full day kindergarten every day is very important,” said Rosann Lassman, business manager.

Currently, the Washougal School District offers all-day, every other day kindergarten.

“I think there would be a lot of people who would love to have an all-day option,” Tarzian said. “If our Legislature is looking at it, it is prudent for us to look and see what we need to do and how to budget for it.”

Lassman estimates that it would cost approximately $325,000 per year to offer all-day kindergarten. However, the cost could vary significantly depending where the additional staff would be on the state salary schedule.

Currently, total design capacity for students at the schools is as follows: Hathaway Elementary School, 714; Gause Elementary School, 677; Cape Horn-Skye Elementary School, 443; Canyon Creek Middle School, 434; Jemtegaard Middle School, 472; Washougal High School, 1,073.