All-day kindergarten coming to Liberal

LIBERAL, Kan. (KSNW) – Last fall, KSN reported on the Liberal school district’s plan to bring all-day kindergarten to that community. Now, the district is moving forward with that plan.

This week, the Liberal school board voted unanimously to begin all-day kindergarten in the Fall.

“I was very happy, very excited,” said Perla Caraveo a parent in the district. “Looking forward to next year for that.”

For Caraveo, the change comes just in time. Her son will start kindergarten in the new school year.

“It’s definitely going to be very good for him being all day instead of half a day,” Caraveo said. “It’s going to have a big impact on his environment and education and learning.”

Students will go from three to six hours each day in class, giving them more time to absorb and master material at an early age.

“The two subgroups of students that are most prevalent in our school district, second language learners and those living in poverty, full day kindergarten is only going to enhance their experiences and their academic abilities to improve,” said Sheri King with the Liberal school district.

The program is something the district has been discussing since 2014. With the new elementary schools opening up this year, the district now has the space to hold the classes.

“We were nervous about it passing?” asks King. “I think so, with today’s budget constraints and the uncertainty of what school funding will look like. I think that was a cause of concern and questions for our school board.”

The school district is waiting to see what school funding will look like out of Topeka and hopes they’ll receive the necessary funds. But just in case, officials say they have room to increase the local option budget enough to cover the $600,000 cost. For the owner of a $100,000 home, that increase would amount to about $20 more per year.

The district would need to hire as many as nine new staff members. The say it’s going to be a struggle considering the state’s teachers shortage. The district started recruiting last fall, four months ahead of schedule.