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WDAY: The News Leader

Published May 20, 2013, 09:18 PM

$16 billion education package is approved allowing All Day Kindergarten

Lake Park Audubon, MN (WDAY TV) -- The Minnesota legislature has approved a nearly 16-billion dollar education package, Governor Dayton says he'll sign it.

By: Kay Cooley, WDAY

Lake Park Audubon, MN (WDAY TV) -- The Minnesota legislature has approved a nearly 16-billion dollar education package, Governor Dayton says he'll sign it.

A bulk of that will go to cover all day, everyday kindergarten, something many schools around here are already taking advantage of.

Most schools around the metro have been offering free all day, everyday kindergarten for several years. Needed to stay competitive with surrounding districts.

One is Lake Park Audubon, a district that's found a way to pay for what that state doesn't. So parents don't have to. The music classes are longer. So are math and English lessons too.

Skaaland: "It's something our school board has wanted to support because they've seen the value."

All part of Lake Park Audubon's all day, everyday kindergarten, now in its sixth year, and soon to be funded fully by the state... A 134 million dollar piece of Minnesota's 15 point 7 billion dollar education package.

Hogie: "It certainly looks favorable for education and it's nice to see that for a change."

Skaaland: "That's great news. We're really happy."

Right now the state pays half and the district pays the rest.. With no money out of pocket for parents.

Hogie: "We provide the opportunity to all students where it used to be provided only to those who could afford an alternative program."

And although the importance of free early education rings loudly in Lake Park Audubon.

17 percent of Minnesota kindergarteners still attended fee-based programs, running about 3 to 4 hundred dollars a month... Or some, can't afford to go at all. So every little bit helps.

Hogie: "Ultimately what we'll get is a better product and that product is a student, a student that's able to learn."

The free, all day kindergarten is optional for districts and will begin in the fall of 20-14. Lake Park Audubon's Superintendent says they might use the freed up money in the budget to improve their preschool program.

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