Funding for optional full-day kindergarten being discussed by state lawmakers

Feb 21, 2023, 8:30 PM


North Star Elementary School kindergarten student Xander raises his hand in class in Salt Lake City on Wednesday, Dec. 4, 2019. (Jeffrey D. Allred, Deseret News)

(Jeffrey D. Allred, Deseret News)

SALT LAKE CITY — A bill being discussed by Utah lawmakers would provide funding for optional full-day kindergarten. The proposal was discussed in a hearing Tuesday. 

Bill sponsor Rep. Robert Spendlove (R-Sandy) joined Dave & Dujanovic on Tuesday with hosts Dave Noriega and Debbie Dujanovic to discuss the importance of H.B. 477.

Spendlove says nationwide 8 out of 10 students have the option of all-day kindergarten. In Utah, only 3 out of 10 students have that option.

“So, we’re really trying to play catch up with the rest of the country,” Spendlove said. 

Noriega asked, “At what point do we let kids be kids? And what point do we just go full throttle and push these kids as hard as we can?”

Kindergarten is optional

Spendlove says one of the benefits about this bill is it’s optional.

“So, it’s just offering this option to parents,” Spendlove said. “If parents want to put their kids in all-day kindergarten, they can.”

Spendlove also mentions something about kindergarten that not everyone may know.

“By the way, kindergarten is totally optional,” he said. “You don’t have to put your kids even in half-day kindergarten. But we want to extend that option to everyone.”

Spendlove also stresses that it’s optional for schools. 

“We’re not forcing schools to transition into this, especially in high growth areas,” he said. 

Noriega points out that with a full-day kindergartener and a half-day kindergartener, a first-grade teacher will have students on different levels.

Test shows most families prefer full-day kindergarten

Spendlove says a small-scale test has been conducted in Utah, regarding the interest of full-day kindergarten. In Washington County, 94% of the families elected full-day kindergarten. In Carbon and Rich counties, 100% of the families chose full-day kindergarten, according to Spendlove. 

Spendlove said, test scores went from 60% mastery before full-day was an option to where it sits today at 90%.

“So, we’re seeing huge advancement in student achievement and student mastery of the skills,” he said. “That’s why this is important.”

Dujanovic asked, “How much is it going to cost taxpayers?”

Spendlove says the total cost is $97 million. He says the state has committed $37 million in the past, and the remaining money will be set aside this year to cover the cost of the expansion.


Dave & Dujanovic can be heard weekdays from 9 a.m. to noon. on KSL NewsRadio. Users can find the show on the KSL NewsRadio website and app, as well as Apple Podcasts and Google Play.  

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Funding for optional full-day kindergarten being discussed by state lawmakers