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In this file photo from Oct. 23, 2018, Principal Leigh Peebles leads kindergartners in mindfulness exercises at Lewis and Clark Elementary School in Caldwell. The Caldwell School District started offering all-day kindergarten this year, drawing on state early literacy funding.

Most Idaho school districts now offer all-day kindergarten to at least some of their students, Idaho Education News reports today, though they have to scramble for funding. The state only provides direct funding for half-day kindergarten; EdNews found that at least 81 of 115 school districts now offer all-day kindergarten to at least some students, with 14 drawing on new early literacy funding and 10 turning to voter-approved supplemental tax levies.

Districts are cobbling together the balance from a variety of sources, writes EdNews reporter Kevin Richert. Only a handful of districts charge tuition, making parents pick up the added cost for the extended school day.

Idaho Education News surveyed every district and charter in the state this summer, asking school leaders if they offered all-day kindergarten or pre-kindergarten programs, and how they covered the costs of early education.

The growth in all-day kindergarten coincides with Gov. Brad Little’s push for Idaho’s “literacy initiative.” Little convinced the 2019 Legislature to double the budget for the program. Districts and charters can use their share of the $26 million in many ways. They can add teachers, for example, or hire coaches to train teachers. All-day kindergarten is one option. You can read Richert's full report here at idahoednews.org.

Betsy Z. Russell is the Boise bureau chief and state capitol reporter for the Idaho Press and Adams Publishing Group. Follow her on Twitter at @BetsyZRussell.

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