Minnesota kindergartners switch to all day every day

By KBJR News 1

August 27, 2014 Updated Aug 27, 2014 at 10:16 AM CST

Duluth, MN (NNCNOW.com) --- This fall will be the first time in Minnesota history that students will be able to attend free all-day kindergarten across the state.
Northland educators say they've already seen the benefits of full school days for the young students.

An education finance bill paying for voluntary all-day kindergarten takes effect this school year.
Educators say extra time is extra important.

"Many of our children do not have any preschool experiences before they come into kindergarten, so having a full day is just absolutely essential to give them the educational background so that they're successful, but also the social skills" said Principal of Meyers-Wilkins Elementary, Stephanie Heilig.

The Duluth School District has had a full school day for kindergartners for about four years now and some teachers say it was impossible to accomplish much with a half day.

"It was hard enough, especially in the winter just to get kids all their winter gear off, get them finally settled down and get a lesson done and do all of those social kind of things to and then our day was over and we're getting all of that winter gear on again and we're out the door" said Kindergarten Teacher, Amy Bodin.

Teachers say the switch was absolutely necessary as education for kindergarteners is changing very fast.

"I noticed in the last 16 years how much more rigorous the kindergarten curriculum is, how much more academic it is, so it's really important that our kids are with us all day every day so that we get them the well-rounded education that they deserve" said Bodin.

Officials say parents and educators don't have to worry about finances with the new change.
Instead, they can focus on looking ahead.

"We're looking so forward to having all these beautiful kids that are just starting kindergarten walking in the door" said Heilig.

In a past interview, Duluth School District Superintendent Bill Gronseth said the district would save more than 630-thousand dollars on an annual basis because of the bill. That money will be used to keep class sizes down.

Bryce Henry
bhenry@kbjr.com