Juan Alvarez and Greg Wilson

Juan Alvarez, left, and Greg Wilson, help the Rural and Underserved Schools subcommittee narrow its recommendations Tuesday.

A subcommittee of Gov. Brad Little’s K-12 task force started developing a potential recommendation for all-day kindergarten Tuesday.

All-day kindergarten is already gaining traction under Little’s literacy initiative. Using increased funding for literacy, Nampa, Caldwell and Vallivue school districts are transitioning to tuition free, all-day kindergarten, Idaho EdNews has reported.

As the law now stands, kindergarten is entirely optional and the state only pays for half a day. Districts aren’t even required to offer it.

Expanding to all-day would cost money, as many districts would need additional space and kindergarten teachers.

Task force members said all-day kindergarten is a strategy for boosting kindergarten through third grade reading scores. In his first year on the job, Little has already made early literacy a major initiative, having convinced the Legislature to double literacy intervention funding.

The Rural and Underserved School Districts subcommittee also began piecing together two other potential recommendations Tuesday:

  • Rewarding and incentivizing collaboration between districts to capitalize on economies of scale.
  • Expanding delivery of career-technical education (CTE) programs, especially to rural areas.

“The goal today is trying to get to a very small subset of preliminary recommendations that really get us focused,” said Juan Alvarez, Idaho National Laboratory’s deputy director for management and operations and the co-chairman of the rural schools subcommittee.

Tuesday’s initial proposals come as the task force and its subcommittees are ramping up in advance of a fall deadline. Committee recommendations are due Oct. 1. Just as Little called for, the recommendations are centering on early literacy and college and career readiness.

  • And the Teacher Pipeline Subcommittee may propose building out a top “rung” on Idaho’s career ladder salary program to pay out $60,000. Currently, the amount the state pays districts for teachers caps out at $50,000 with the career ladder.

Next up, the full “Our Kids, Idaho’s Future” task force meets Sept. 13 in Pocatello.

The Rural and Underserved Schools subcommittee meets again Sept. 23.

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