While the state of Minnesota moves forward with improved education funding, the Montevideo school sistrict is sitting in a unique position; The district is primed to make use of new funding, ahead of the curve in some regards, but in a position to miss out in one case.
With the state of Minnesota ready to begin funding all-day kindergarten, many districts are welcoming the opportunity, including Montevideo, where all-day kindergarten has already been in place for three years.
“A lot of research shows an investment in kindergarten really pays off,” said Dr. Luther Heller, superintendent of the Montevideo school district. “When we look at the allocation of resources ... we look where our students can get the most benefit for the money. We believed that kindergarten provided the best long term benefits for students.”
Heller said that when he arrived in Montevideo, a model was already in place where parents could pay for all-day, everyday kindergarten if they wanted to, and that the part time kindergarten was provided.
“About three years ago we made the move to go ahead and have all-day, every-day kindergarten for all of our students. That coincided with moving Kindergarten into the Sanford Education Center. At that point we provided all day every day to all students at no additional cost to the families,” Heller said. He added that this change was not attached to the local education levy referendum.
So, what changes now that the program is funded by the state?
“We’re not necessarily going to spend more money on kindergarten,” Heller said. “The money being put in (from the state) will allow us to have more money overall. One way to look at it is that we’ll no longer need to take money from other programs to supplement kindergarten.”
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