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School board OK's all-day kindergarten There will be room for 20 at each school.

"An all-day kindergarten program option, to begin next fall, was approved by the Bainbridge School Board Wednesday.This has been around for a long time, for as long as I've been here, said Stephen Rowley, district superintendent. This is a historic moment.The program will run five days a week during regular school hours at all three elementary schools, and can accommodate 20 full-time kindergarten students at each.Supplementing the current part-day program, it will extend learning opportunities for students, but will not accelerate their progress through the school system, district officials said. Students who attend the full-day sessions will enter the first grade along with half-day kindergarten students. Participating families will pay $2,386 tuition, since the state only reimburses local school districts for costs associated with half-day programs. Central Kitsap and Mercer Island, districts with comparable extended kindergarten programs, charge $2,200 and $2,700, respectively. Tuition, to be paid in 10 installments throughout the school year, will make the full-day program self-supporting to avoid drawing resources away from other district programs, school officials said.Reduced fees will be available to families who qualify for the district's free or reduced-price lunch program. The school board acknowledged that some in between families with modest incomes not low enough to qualify for the reduced-fee lunch program might experience some difficulty paying tuition.Assistant Superintendent for Human Resources Ken Crawford suggested that such families might receive tuition assistance from Initiative 728 money. There are some options that can be quite creative, Crawford said.An open enrollment period will run from February through spring break. If the number of interested families is larger than can be accommodated, an enrollment lottery will be used. Just what form the lottery would take has yet to be determined. There will be variables that will affect how we develop criteria to ensure diversity, but we won't know until we see who signs up, said Brent Peterson, superintendent for instruction.There will be a meeting for interested parents at 7 p.m. Feb. 26 at Ordway. Contact Bainbridge elementary schools for information, or call Peterson at 780-1067. "

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