Individual districts to determine what to do with all-day kindergarten

Posted: Updated:

PHOENIX – Are you willing to pay for something that used to be free? That is the challenge facing many Arizona families after state lawmakers stripped funding for all-day kindergarten.

No district wants to dismantle the program but the question is can they continue to offer full-day kindergarten for free?

Kathy Bareiss, with the Mesa School District, says, “Mesa has made commitment to have full-day kindergarten for free.”

Mesa School District has offered the program for three years and has more than 5,000 kindergartners enrolled.

Brian Minarcik, the school's principal, explains, “They learn basic foundation, all the multiplication counting by five, counting by tens. They learn to sound out their writing.”

It is a foundation Mesa school officials say they will find a way to fund.

Nevertheless other districts like Cave Creek, Peoria and Gilbert, who are battling with their own tight budgets, are not sure the program will continue without asking parents to pay for it.

Already the Queen Creek School District is opting to charge parents a fee. Jenelle Summerall, a parent, says “I think if parents want full-day kindergarten they should have to pay for it because a lot of times the kids don't necessarily need full- day kindergarten.”

In Arizona parents have the right to school choice, which means if your school does not provide full-day kindergarten or is going to charge for it, you can take them to another district.

Summerall tells 3TV, “My daughter…we know that's another option we can take her where we want.”

Right now many districts are working on their budgets so it may be a couple of weeks before they know the fate of full-day kindergarten.

A lot of that also depends on whether or not the sales tax increase passes in May.