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LEWISTON, Idaho (AP) — Students in Tina Greene’s kindergarten class are almost one full quarter ahead of schedule in their reading and writing thanks to the launch of the Lewiston School District’s all-day kindergarten program.

Other kindergarten teachers have also shared with Greene they’re further along than they were last year with the half-day program.

“Overall, it’s all gone really, really well,” Greene told The Lewiston Tribune . “Now we have time to teach in depth and make sure they are understanding what’s being taught before going on to the next lesson. We’re truly teaching those lessons.”

The additional time has allowed more opportunities for art, games, hands-on learning and working on the social-emotional skills teachers say are vital to success in the school system.

About 340 kids are registered in the kindergarten program.

Since Idaho only funds half-day kindergarten, the district had to spend about $350,000 to expand to a full-day program.

This year, about five of Greene’s students came in not prepared. Some lacked fine motor skills or didn’t know how to function in a group of peers.

About half of the students in her class went to preschool beforehand.

Those students are easy to pinpoint, Greene said, because they have a better idea of what school is and the expectations placed on them. They’re also further along academically.

While supportive of preschool, Superintendent Bob Donaldson said there haven’t been discussions to add the program in Lewiston.

“We are engaged in a pretty ambitious approach with things right now with the implementation of (all-day) kindergarten this year,” Donaldson said.

The school board has instructed the district to look at sixth- through eighth-grade middle schools, and open the new ninth- through 12th-grade high school in fall 2020.

“We have a lot of things on our plate right now, and while I think there’s real merit to looking at the possibility of preschool, I think we are kind of at a point of capacity of planning and looking to implement a new organization districtwide,” Donaldson said.

The district does have a partnership with Head Start in a developmental preschool at Whitman Elementary School, which caters to students with special needs.

Donaldson said he has already seen the benefits of the all-day kindergarten program.

“The half-day format really felt rushed and a little overwhelming, especially when our kindergarten teachers would have two different groups of upwards of 44 students or more during the day,” he said.


Information from: Lewiston Tribune,