Kindergarten options

The Kyrene school board and administration discussed the possible outcomes for kindergarten options at the meeting on Tuesday, Oct. 25

Travis Roemhild/AFN

The Kyrene Elementary School District governing board heard from district administrators on Tuesday about the potential long-term financial impact if they choose not to fund all-day kindergarten next year.

In a presentation at the governing board meeting, interim chief financial officer Jeremy Calles showed how not funding kindergarten for the 2012-13 school year, which would cost an estimated $2 million, would have a negative financial impact in the long run.

If the governing board decides to charge tuition for full-day kindergarten, they would see a reduction of the equivalent of 41 full-time employees.

In the presentation, there were two possibilities - a "moderate" and an "optimistic" estimation. In the "moderate" scenario, they project a nine year loss of $3.1 million in revenue and in the "optimistic" scenario, a loss of about $1.4 million was estimated.

These numbers were drawn from a computer generated formula that took into account things like the percentage of students that would leave Kyrene for a district that offered free all-day kindergarten, how many would choose half-day, how many would receive tuition reimursement or a scholarship.

Calles said that these estimations did not include other potential losses such as the addition of 19 bus routes due to the split between half-day and full-day students and, for those that do leave the district, the potential loss of their siblings as well.

The other aspect discussed at the meeting was the academic impact of choosing not to fund all-day kindergarten. In the "moderate" projection, it is estimated half of kindergarteners will choose half-day over paying for full-day kindergarten.

This will impact the academic success of some of these students later on down the road, said Carrie Furedy, assistant director of educational services for Kyrene.

Students in families deemed low socio-economic status who were kindergarteners during the 2005-2006 school year, when only half-day kindergarten was funded, took the Arizona's Instrument to Measure Standards (AIMS) as third graders in 2008-2009. That year, 6.12 percent of students "fell far below" and 9.28 percent scored "exceeds." In last year's third grade class, who benefitted from free all-day kindergarten in 2007-2008, 3.75 percent "fell far below" and 11.82 percent "exceeds."

Because Arizona is an open-enrollment state, Kyrene will face increased competition from other local districts. Chandler, Gilbert, Mesa, and Tempe all have plans in the works to continue to fund all-day kindergarten, which could spell a loss in enrollment for Kyrene.

To find out more, visit the website, The next school board meeting will take place on Nov. 8 at the district office, 8700 S. Kyrene Road when they will continue the discussion.

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