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Finding The Space Needed For All-Day Kindergarten

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(credit: CBS) Angela Davis
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MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) – We hear quite a bit about the benefits of all-day kindergarten compared to half-day programs. Next year, more school districts in Minnesota will offer it free of charge because state funding will kick in.

But with the change comes some challenges, and finding enough space in school buildings is one of them.

“When you move from a half-day kindergarten program to a full-day program, you have to have some additional space, not because you have more students, but because now you don’t have half-day K programs sharing space; they need their own space,” said Osseo Area Schools Superintendent Kate Maguire. “It’s a wonderful opportunity, and it presents challenges.”

Beginning this fall, the superintendent is recommending changing the grade level span at three schools.

But in the 2015-16 school year, she wants to move the 6th graders out of all the elementary schools and into middle-schools.

“It’s a dramatic change,” she said. “We wouldn’t make that change for the next school year, we would need a year of planning to do it well. We’d make that change for the 15-16 school year.”

Maguire also says she’s also looking at moving 9th graders out of junior high and into high schools.

“We really are an anomaly,” she said. “We are different than most of the school districts in the state Minnesota, and, in fact, in the country. It’s most typical in Minnesota that there is a 9-through-12 grade span in the high school level.”

Maguire explained it’s important because 9th grade credits now count for high school graduation, and it’s beneficial to those students to be in the same school all four years.

Osseo Area Schools wants feedback from parents, so it’s holding a series of information sessions in January, and then the following month, the school board plans to take action.

The district is also asking teachers for their input on all the recommended changes.

The superintendent says they need about 16 to 18 additional classrooms district-wide to accommodate the all-day kindergarten students.

They’re also looking at building additions on to schools.

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