School districts prepare for full-day kindergarten as Cox signs bill into law | News, Sports, Jobs

James Roh, Daily Herald file photo

Kindergarten students listen to Megan Prawitt read to her class at Hobble Creek Learning Center in Springville on Friday, Feb. 1, 2013.

Utah County school districts are looking forward to new opportunities presented by expanded full-day kindergarten options. Gov. Spencer Cox signed HB 477, which modifies funding for full-length kindergartens and requires districts to still have half-day options, into law on Friday.

Full-day kindergarten was accessible to 34% of kindergarteners in Utah during the 2022-2023 school year, compared to 82% across the country, according to advocacy group Utah Full Day Kindergarten Now. According to the Utah State Board of Education, there are 2,279 total kindergarten classes across the state, 641 of which are full day.

“We have followed the bill closely and have been working with our schools to identify what is needed to implement full day kindergarten in terms of staffing and space in our buildings,” said Caleb Price, Provo City School District director of communications. “While we currently are continuing that work, we already have a full day kindergarten program in some of our schools that we are able to use as a model.”

PCSD reported having 958 kindergarten students (7.04% of all students) in 13 elementary schools according to enrollment data recorded Oct. 1. The district offered six additional full-day kindergarten classes after the passage of HB 193 in 2022, the foundation for the 2023 bill.

Nebo School District is already preparing to add full-day kindergarten classes to their schools, having posted openings for approximately 30 kindergarten teachers to their job portal.

Isaac Hale, Daily Herald file photo

Isaac Smith, 6, makes a game out of stepping between colored and non-colored tiles as he and his kindergarten class walk between classrooms at American Heritage School on Thursday, Oct. 31, 2019, in American Fork.

“The good news is that Nebo School District currently has room in our elementary school buildings because we finished moving our sixth grade students to a middle school model in 2021,” Lana Hiskey, Nebo School District communications and community relations administrator, told the Daily Herald . “Nebo’s registration is now open, and we hope our parents will register as soon as possible and let us know if they prefer a full-day kindergarten class or a half-day kindergarten class.”

According to them Oct. 1 enrollment data, Nebo has 2,561 kindergarten students (7.07%) in 30 elementary schools as the state’s sixth largest district. Alpine School District, meanwhile, recorded 5,738 kindergarteners (6.77%) across 60 elementary schools as the state’s largest district.

“Alpine School District appreciates the work during the legislative session to address school funding. “We look forward to opportunities for some of our kindergarten students with additional funding available for all day kindergarten,” said David Stephenson, Alpine School District’s executive director of external relations and communications.

The bill passed the Utah House 51-14 with 10 absent or not voting members. Three Utah County representatives — Brady Brammer, Kay Christofferson and Stephanie Gricius –opposed the measure. In the Senate it passed 24-3 with all opposing voters coming from Utah County officials — Jacob Anderegg, Mike Kennedy and Dan McCay.

Stefanie Plothow home schools her children Cameron, 9, in the 3rd grade, and Ainsley, 5, in kindergarten, Friday, Aug. 20, 2021, in Lehi.


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