CALDWELL — Gov. Brad Little joined school administrators, teachers and staff Tuesday for the Caldwell School District’s opening meeting. The event is a welcome back for teachers ahead of the new school year, which starts Monday.

In a keynote address, Little spoke of the efforts to increase teacher pay and boost opportunities for students beyond K-12.

The Caldwell School District this year will start offering free, all-day kindergarten at all of its elementary schools. The district is using increased early literacy funds from the Idaho Legislature, which Little pushed for. The Nampa and Vallivue school districts are also using the funds to offer free full-day kindergarten.

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“We talk about access and equity for all children,” Caldwell School District Superintendent Shalene French said in a video statement in April about the new kindergarten program. “That means all children have an opportunity to be taught at grade level on grade level. With full-day kindergarten for every child, it gives them a step up and they’re ready for school.”

Monday’s welcome-back event, held in the Caldwell High School auditorium, opened with a performance by youth mariachi band, Mariachi Juvenil De Mi Tierra, and folk dancers.

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