RIDE awards funds to four districts to expand full-day kindergarten

The R.I. Department of Education (RIDE) has awarded funds to four school districts to enable them to begin or expand full-day kindergarten programs, starting in the fall of 2014, Education Commissioner Deborah A. Gist announced today (December 16).

Through a competitive-review process, RIDE awarded funds for full-day kindergarten programs to these districts:

  • Cranston                                          $99,072
  • Exeter-West Greenwich Regional $45,000
  • Glocester                                           $33,000
  • Woonsocket                                     $72,928

The funds were made available through the Full-Day Kindergarten Accessibility Act, which the General Assembly passed in 2012 and funded earlier this year.

“As Governor, I have been unwavering in my support of education, especially early-childhood learning. I was pleased to sign a state budget that included funds for schools to expand to full-day kindergarten,” Governor Lincoln D. Chafee said. “Any opportunity that leads to improved learning for Rhode Island children is good news. I am glad that the teachers and families in Cranston, Exeter, Glocester, West Greenwich, and Woonsocket will benefit from this effort.”

Senator Hanna M. Gallo, Senate sponsor of the Full-Day Kindergarten Accessibility Act, said: “There is a wealth of data about the importance of early educational opportunities such as those provided through full-day kindergarten. It helps to close achievement gaps and improve academic success throughout students’ schooling. I am grateful to Commissioner Gist and the Department of Education for their support for this program. I am very pleased that students in my community of Cranston, as well as children in the Exeter-West Greenwich, Glocester, and Woonsocket school systems, will now have access to this important advantage.”

“As an advocate for early-childhood education, I am very grateful to all the districts that applied for the grant and for RIDE’s support for all-day kindergarten,” said Representative Joy Hearn, House sponsor of the Full-Day Kindergarten Accessibility Act. “It is my hope that the support for early-childhood education takes on across the state, making it available to all Rhode Island’s children. This program is a good first step toward making that a reality.”

“What children learn in the early years, and how well they learn, is the foundation for all that follows,” said Eva-Marie Mancuso, Chair of the Board of Education. “By offering more full-day kindergarten programs across our state, we will prepare our children for a lifetime of teaching and learning.”

“I was very pleased that we received excellent funding applications from dedicated educators eager to offer more hours of instruction to our youngest learners,” said Commissioner Gist. “As they move to a full-day kindergarten model, I am confident that the teachers and school leaders in these four districts will provide their children with a high-quality kindergarten experience that will get them off to a great start in school.”

A team from RIDE reviewed all applications for funding and awarded the funds based on the quality of the plan submitted, the quality of existing programming in the district, the capacity to start full-day kindergarten, the quality of key personnel, and the cost proposal, among other factors.

The four districts will use their funds to offset the one-time start-up costs of beginning a full-day kindergarten program, including such expenses as facilities upgrades, purchase of books and furniture, and curriculum development. The four districts receiving the funds will commit to maintaining the full-day kindergarten programs for at least five school years.

At present, 22 school districts in Rhode Island (plus all 8 charter public schools and state-operated schools with elementary-school grades) offer universal full-day kindergarten (i.e., for all kindergarten students in the school or district). There are 8 districts that offer no full-day kindergarten (including Cranston, Exeter-West Greenwich, and Glocester) and 5 districts (including Woonsocket) that offer only limited full-day kindergarten.