Understanding Full Day Kindergarten in La Grande School District
by Larry Glaze
The Oregon Legislature passed Senate Bill 248 in the 2011 regular session. This bill involves full day kindergarten in Oregon. There is much misunderstanding about this bill and this is the purpose of my article.
Senate Bill 248 does not mandate full day kindergarten in Oregon schools in 2015. What the bill actually does is mandate that schools be paid full ADM (Average Daily Membership) by the state for each student attending a full day kindergarten. Oregon Schools are currently paid .5 ADM for kindergarten students. Schools will still have the choice of running kindergarten half day or full day depending on the funding ability of each district.
We all want full day kindergarten for our children! It is the best educational option. The problematic part of this story is the funding scenario for La Grande School District. The additional funding from the state would not come close to covering the additional cost of 4 additional teachers, 4 new teacher aides, library, counseling and music specialist, special education staff costs and four new classrooms that would be necessary for running a full time kindergarten. My estimate shows a shortfall of $285,816.00 for the first year.
In talking with Chuck Bennett, Confederation of Oregon Schools Administrators, Legislative Liaison, I asked the following question, “Where will the state get the money to fund these additional dollars for kindergarten?” His reply was as suspected, that unless the funding picture changes dramatically between now and 2015 the additional dollars will likely come from the same existing general fund allotment given to K-12 education. What this means is more dollars will go to kindergarten funding with less going to other students and programs. In short, the existing money will be divided in different ways.
Oregon School Districts should be very careful about examining Senate Bill 248 to ensure resources are available to adequately fund kindergarten programs without taking away from existing student services.
Estimated Costs for Full Day Kindergarten: La Grande School District September 30, 2011 (Using current 2011-2012 school year cost estimates)
Revenue from .5 ADM Increase
(144 * $3000=$432,000) $ 432,000
Cost Differential $285,816