5 more West Seattle schools get ‘free’ full-day kindergarten

Seattle Public Schools has just announced that five more schools in West Seattle are offering free full-day kindergarten – as in, no extra fees charged to families – effective immediately. We first heard about this thanks to a parent whose school is circulating a letter announcing this, and now there’s a news release from the district. The West Seattle schools are Alki, Arbor Heights, Gatewood, K-5 STEM at Boren, and Pathfinder K-8; five other area elementaries already had free full-day K. Read on for details in the official announcement:

Seattle Public Schools is eliminating the cost of attending full-day kindergarten this year at 16 schools, and hopes to reduce the kindergarten fees at all other elementary schools.

Thanks to a change in how the District can use $2.4 million in state dollars from the Learning Assistance Program (LAP), students in 16 additional schools will be able to attend kindergarten all day at no cost. Currently, there are 27 elementary schools that offer full-day kindergarten at no charge. Now students in a total of 43 schools will have free full-day kindergarten (out of 69 total elementary/K-8 schools).

In addition, students at all other elementary schools would – if approved by the School Board on Nov. 20 — see a reduction in the cost of full-day kindergarten this year, from $311 a month to $283, retroactive to Sept. 1, 2013. If approved, families will have the money credited back to their bank accounts by Jan. 31, 2014. Families who paid through PayPams by credit card will receive a refund check by Jan 31. District Accounting will discontinue withdrawing the kindergarten fees from families in the 16 additional fully-funded schools, effective immediately.

“We know that early learning is key to our students’ success, and attending full- day kindergarten helps prepare our students academically and socially for the rest of their school career,” said Cashel Toner, Director of Early Learning for Seattle Public Schools. “This proposal means that an additional 770 students can take advantage of full-day kindergarten at no cost.”

There are 35 students at the 16 additional schools who currently are only enrolled in half-day kindergarten. The District will reach out to those families to see if they want to consider full-day kindergarten.

The state currently funds full-day kindergarten for schools that are at 50 percent population of students who qualify for free and reduced price lunch. Seattle Public Schools will now offer it to all schools with 25 percent free and reduced price lunch.

Schools that currently have full-day kindergarten at no cost include: Bailey Gatzert, Beacon Hill International, Broadview-Thomson K-8, Concord International, Dearborn Park, Dunlap, Emerson, Graham Hill, Hawthorne, Highland Park, Kimball, Leschi, Wing Luke, Madrona K-8, Maple, Martin Luther King Jr., John Muir, Northgate, Olympic Hills, Pinehurst K-8, Rainier View, Roxhill, Sanislo, South Shore K-8, Thurgood Marshall, Van Asselt, West Seattle Elementary.

The following 16 schools will now offer free full-day kindergarten to families: Alki, Arbor Heights, BF Day, Gatewood, Greenwood, Jane Addams K-8, K-5 STEM at Boren, Lowell, Olympic View, Orca K-8, Pathfinder K-8, John Rogers, Sand Point, Stevens, Tops K-8 and Viewlands.

The Washington State Legislature has said the state will fully fund all-day kindergarten in all schools by 2017. Seattle Public Schools will set aside LAP funding to continue supplementing full-day kindergarten until 2017.

If you are affected, you will likely get a letter home from your school; we got first word of this shortly before the news release when an Alki parent texted us about receiving a letter. (Thanks – breaking news comes in all forms! – 206-293-6302 any time.)

36 Replies to "5 more West Seattle schools get 'free' full-day kindergarten"

  • th November 1, 2013 (12:47 pm)

    If a family needs assistance they should have to apply for it. It should not be based upon the school.

  • Brian November 1, 2013 (1:07 pm)

    The idea of having to pay additional fees on top of taxes to send your child to all-day kindergarten is such a bizarre thing.

    I went to kindergarten at a public school in Florida in the early 90s and I know for damn sure my parents didn’t pay anything extra to send me there.

    This is great news but it’s sad that it has to be news at all. This should be the norm.

  • Ray November 1, 2013 (1:21 pm)

    This is NOT free kindergarden. We, the taxpayers, are paying for this (and rightly so). It is free to the participants, but to say that it is free with no qualifier is disingenuous.

    That is like saying “free healthcare” when the rest of us taxpayers are the ones actually paying for it.

    • WSB November 1, 2013 (1:36 pm)

      “Get full-day kindergarten that families don’t have to pay extra for” is a little hard to fit in a headline, but point taken; will add a bit to the copy. – TR

  • Happybutmiffed November 1, 2013 (2:01 pm)

    I agree th. I’m thrilled that those who can’t pay for full day kindergarten will have it taken care of, but everyone I know who now won’t have to pay makes just as much as we do, but our whole school doesn’t qualify.

    I understand paying for K, the state doesn’t pay for it, but I suspect the district could if all of the scandalous waste was put towards education.

    I say everyone gets it free and the district cuts some “programs” to pay for it while we fight the state to pay.

  • Joe Szilagyi November 1, 2013 (2:11 pm)

    Wow, I completely missed this somehow, or forgot about it. So if you’ve got a kid going to start at–for example–Arbor Heights, congrats, that’s it, full day kindergarten for all at no extra personal out of pocket cost? If so, that’s wonderful!!

  • WestSeattleParent November 1, 2013 (2:14 pm)

    Ray just blew my mind by pointing out that government services such as public schools are funded by taxpayers, I HAD NO IDEA.

  • AJP November 1, 2013 (2:21 pm)

    If you have families apply for it, it will create a lot more paperwork and employees to process those applications. Numerous studies have shown that early education makes a huge difference in reducing drop-out rates later. We as a society would save so much $$ down the line if we would be more proactive in offering free preschool and kindergarten for all children.

  • JJ November 1, 2013 (2:47 pm)

    Pre-K through 12 should be free for all and if necessary we should pay higher taxes in the short term to make it happen. In the long run we would all be better off. A better educated America would cost less in so many other areas, if only we could be focused on long term gains instead of short term costs.

  • Kgdlg November 1, 2013 (3:16 pm)

    Why don’t we ever view education as an investment in civil society later on? I am fine with my tax dollars subsidizing “free” K for low income families.

  • Star55 November 1, 2013 (3:30 pm)

    This should be free at every school for every student. When I vote for the district levy I am voting for all students not just a few.

  • Gene November 1, 2013 (3:45 pm)

    Unfortunately – once we vote to pass school levies- the money & decisions on how & to whom it’s allocated is left to others.

  • kayo November 1, 2013 (5:17 pm)

    As a parent who will have a kindergartner at a qualifying school next year, I am thrilled, but I also strongly believe it should be for all schools now. I know plenty of families at the “wealthy” schools who really have to stretch to pay for that full day (especially if they also have to pay for before and after school childcare). It is difficult to qualify for FRL/free kindergarten and many families who don’t struggle mightily because cost of living is so high here. Free universal preschool and kindergarten will benefit all of us in the long run. http://www.nytimes.com/2013/10/27/opinion/sunday/kristof-do-we-invest-in-preschools-or-prisons.html?smid=fb-share&_r=0

  • Schmitz parent November 1, 2013 (5:51 pm)

    So why is it that Schmitz and Lafayette are the only two West Seattle Schools left off the list? So the neighbors kids go to K for free and I have to still pay monthly when we make the same amount? Really? Oh and it all other schools are now free why are the other two school rates only being reduced by $25? Really? Not even by half? We need to ensure all elementary schools are treated equitably.

  • helridge November 1, 2013 (6:15 pm)

    I am saddened to see that Lafayette is not included…was so excited when I saw the headlines!

  • Ferryboat November 1, 2013 (6:17 pm)

    Now if only our class size numbers could be reasonable. Check out http://www.classsizecountswa.com.

  • Lox November 1, 2013 (6:58 pm)

    Happy for the families this benefits but as a Lafayette parent, I’m truly perplexed. Pathfinder and STEM are choice schools. I don’t have a choice that my child was assigned to Lafayette.

  • Dookie T November 1, 2013 (6:59 pm)

    Why aren’t they spreading the funds evenly between ALL Kindergarten programs at ALL schools??? What is up with this partitioned approach to everything that SPS has? So glad we left the system this year.

  • Still miffed November 1, 2013 (7:33 pm)

    This pisses me off. Not much does. So I guess if we could afford a view home, we’d get free kindergarten. Sure there might be more free lunch kids but the vast majority most of these schools have incomes equal to Schmitz and Lafayette.

  • Laura November 1, 2013 (11:28 pm)

    LAP funds are funds specifically designated to support low-income students, particularly those not in title 1 schools where funds are already being spent for this purpose. Purchasing kindergarten hours is a legitimate use of these funds, and probably very impactful on future outcomes for the children served in poverty. It would be nice though, especially if the District isn’t able to cover the cost of full-time kindergarten for all, if the funds could be set aside for scholarships to all public kinder programs. That would be more equitable.

  • Ferryboat November 2, 2013 (6:02 am)

    Still miffed, Most districts are slowly rolling out free full day K because of monies that were given from the legislature. As the legislature continues (we need to put pressure on them) increase school funding, the free all day K classrooms will expand.

    One thing to remember is that in districts and/or buildings that have large numbers of students that have come from disadvantaged families, is that the students have not been to preschool, they don’t always have parents that read to them (or can read), take them to educational places, etc. These students have a lot of catch up to do to be at the level with students that have grown up in a more advantaged family. We have Ks 2 months into school year that still don’t have letter or number recognition (and I don’t even mean the entire alphabet). It takes time when those concepts have never been exposed to you as a toddler/preschool age child.

    Please be understanding that districts had to make tough decisions on which buildings they could roll out the program to in the first year. Next year there will be more buildings on the list…and eventually free K for all!

  • Sandal40 November 2, 2013 (7:47 am)

    Last year I paid $2,720 for one of my boys to go to all day kindergarten. This was a complete hardship on my family of 5. My youngest will start kindergarten next year at Lafayette (not on the list). It is unacceptable to think that families need to pay this amount. Why not have ALL families with students pay $5 a month – $50 a year is dooable and it would cover so much more. Their are families who only do half day kindergarten because of the outrageous cost. How bout school fundraising cover the cost up front for “free” education?

  • ttt November 2, 2013 (7:51 am)

    Thank you ferryboat for more explanation. You must be a teacher (and if you are THANK YOU for everything you do!)
    We are family that will greatly benefit from this– a middle class family that is barely making it month to month and free kindergarten will ensure that we can pay for the groceries each week. Kindergarten should be funded for all, and the state is working toward that goal, but until then going to the schools with the most disadvantaged kids first makes sense. Thanks SPS!!

  • Miffed November 2, 2013 (8:49 am)

    Oh I completely agree with fully funding pre-k and K and helping out the disadvantaged first. So do that. Free Kindergarten for all on reduced lunch.

    The extra cost to my one- income family is huge! while a duel-income-high-earning friend who can afford a mini-mansion with a view gets k for free.

    My son’s class at Schmitz also had three kids who had absolutely no exposure to prior education. Unfortunate.

    I know, I know, no one said life would be fair.

  • Chris November 2, 2013 (9:31 am)

    I hope we all remember our frustration with this the next time an income tax is on the ballot. The discussion should be about Universal Pre-K; not full day Kingergarten. Such a disservice to all.

  • Person November 2, 2013 (10:32 am)

    Well I hope the people who are able can now pass the money on to their PTAs. The idea that most of these schools are “low income” is laughable.

  • Sierra November 2, 2013 (1:11 pm)

    Our child is a new K student at Alki and I am thrilled by this news because I know a number of borderline families with benefit from this extra money. It’s crazy that anyone has to pay for full-day kindergarten, and starting to address the issue with schools that have higher rates of free and reduced lunch participation is an excellent start. Next step, free kindergarten for all kids in Seattle Public Schools! In the meantime, this means extra $ for our PTA and teacher who often pays for supplies, equipment and furniture out of her own salary. Hopefully other parents will step up and make additional contributions to school-based organizations.

  • NorDel November 2, 2013 (3:31 pm)

    Not all families who do not qualify for free and reduced lunches can afford an extra $311 a month for half a day of kindergarten. We were planning on having our daughter attend half day next year because of the out of pocket cost. We simply cannot afford it. She’s very outgoing and ready for school, and she needs the social interaction with her peers. It was sad to discuss half day kinder knowing she would miss out on art, music, gym, and any other non-core subjects.

    I do agree that choice schools like Boren and Pathfinder should be crossed off the list and Schmitz Park and Lafayette added.

  • West Seattle Mom November 2, 2013 (5:01 pm)

    I agree. If they choose Pathfinder or STEM then they should pay for it. No matter what. It’s their choice.

  • kayo November 2, 2013 (5:32 pm)

    Can you explain the logic behind why a choice school is less deserving than a neighborhood school? Please provide some logical reasons. Stem and Pathfinder both have well over twice the number of FRL kids as Lafayette AND Schmitz Park COMBINED. I agree that it is unfair that only two schools are left who still have to pay and I feel especially bad for families like NorDel for whom full day is just not an option. Hopefully, the district will fix this next year and you will all get a refund. In the meantime, direct your anger at the state legislator and the school district. Not toward other families who made choices in the best interests of their children just like everyone else is trying to do.

  • wseavirgo November 2, 2013 (7:44 pm)

    Well said kayo!

  • Sweetgreen pea November 3, 2013 (7:45 am)

    Well said Kayo… I find it so interesting that while Pathfinder was in the Genesse building we were certainly looked down upon. As being ” the bad kids school”. What a change to now being a “choice” school. I do understand what that really means but so interesting how people like to judge… Back to point, we never had to pay for kindergarten. I am so very sorry to those that do. This should be free and available for ALL!!! And please do remember the income tax, we need money from somewhere to benifit us all…

  • Mom November 3, 2013 (8:47 am)

    I have a very difficult time paying too. I’m a single mom, working full-time to afford all this and I don’t even have the option of keeping my child at home because I am work. How ironic to me that people complain about paying when they can stay home to take care of their children. I know my child prefers that I’m with her more. I don’t have luxuries, take no vacations, can’t afford extra activities, no gym membership, ride the bus, no tv, old house, etc. like someone said earlier. Life ain’t fair. I feel that. I only have 1 child because of the cost but I would have wanted 2.

  • Mom November 3, 2013 (9:04 am)

    Also, I really feel the unfairness when I know of many families, especially the ones with view homes that are getting this free. They could just ask the family to provide an income tax statement or if homeowner produce a annual assessed value. That could be done quicker and may be more fair

  • Sandal40 November 3, 2013 (12:10 pm)

    The point here is that ALL kindergarten classes at EVERY public school should require no out of pocket expense. Period. Single moms, single dads, stay at home moms/dads, one income families, people with views, no views, homeowners, renters, etc. It is public school and it should not have any out of pocket expenses.

    I currently stay at home with my 3 boys and I have also been a single mom with one of my boys …. Both positions are equally hard work. Both positions lack certain luxuries!!

  • Community idea November 4, 2013 (7:27 am)

    Those at Schmitz and Lafayette should get with their PTA and submit their kindergarten invoices to tier state legislature and also tell SPS that they will only pay half of their monthly tithing. If we act a a a community then they have to listen. Good points about the option schools, especially STEM! It take a village!

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