EDUCATION + SCHOOLS

Lawmakers propose all-day kindergarten bill, UEA fully supports it

Feb 18, 2022, 7:36 PM | Updated: Dec 5, 2022, 11:56 am
kindergarten gap year...
(File Photo: Credit: WFOR)
(File Photo: Credit: WFOR)

SALT LAKE CITY – All-day kindergarten will become a more realistic option for parents if a new bill passes this year.  Unlike several other bills being debated on Capitol Hill, this one has the full backing of the Utah Education Association.

Several school districts already offer all-day kindergarten for students, but not all districts in Utah do, yet.  For example, the Tooele County School District offers a full-day program, but it’s usually set aside for kids who are already struggling and need more support.  Spokesperson Marie Denson says, if they were to make it available to all students, they would need to find facilities with enough space and they would need to ensure the state is providing enough extra funding for teachers.

Sara Jones with the UEA says it’s not feasible to expand every kindergarten class into an all-day program.  Schools already split their classes into different portions of the day to accommodate the number of children in the area.  Jones says they don’t want to stuff too many students into one day part.

She said, “Now, you would have to have two classrooms to allow full-day kindergarten.”

However, she says HB 193 would allow school districts to be flexible in how they would provide all-day classes.

“It doesn’t necessarily require that every single elementary school in a district offer full-day kindergarten as an option, but it does require the district, as a whole, to provide that full-day kindergarten option,” she said.

Educators confident funding will be ready

This program wouldn’t start until 2025, and Jones says the bill phases in more money to pay for extra teachers and other resources.  The funding wouldn’t come all at once, but Jones believes there should be enough set aside by then.

Jones said, “All of the funding will not be appropriated this year.  It will take three years to get to that full expansion.  At that point, there should be sufficient funding for district to implement this.”

Earlier this legislative session, UEA officials have stated that several bills have been pushed without their backing or input, calling them “continued attacks” on public education.  However, Jones says this bill is getting their full support.

“The UEA does support the implementation of a full-day kindergarten option for families in Utah,” she said.

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Lawmakers propose all-day kindergarten bill, UEA fully supports it