Here’s a glimpse at where the rubber meets the road in Governor Dayton’s latest union kickback initiative: All day pre-school. Source: ABC Newspapers
“Space and staffing are probably the big changes that would need to be made,” she said.
Space is at a premium in the Anoka-Hennepin School District.
Currently, Anoka-Hennepin provides preschool programming for 1,250 kids, about two-thirds of those 4-year-olds. With programming lasting only two to three hours on a given day, the district can use one classroom for multiple groups of students, which full-day preschool does not allow.
Almost 2,875 4-year-olds live in the district this year, according to census data. If the district maintains a similar number of 4-year-olds in 2016 and two-thirds of those kids enroll in pre-K, that means Anoka-Hennepin has to make space for almost 1,900 4-year-olds. Staffing at a 20:1 ratio would require 95 classrooms.
“While we welcome being able to support early learners, there are some significant space considerations that would have to be figured out,” Kerr said.
Currently, preschool classes are held in various elementary schools, the Educational Learning Center and strip malls across the district.
Dayton’s current funding source is one time surplus money and as the Anoka Hennepin administrators point out, it likely won’t even cover all the costs to actually implement this unneeded mandate. Where the funds will come from at the local level to cover the costs of finding more classrooms and facilities is unclear. So is where the funding will be found for future budget cycles.
Didn’t we just add all-day kindergarten? How much did that added mandate stress school district budgets? But more importantly, is it paying off?
If you ask me, this was just another payback for the unions by Dayton in return for them working so hard on his reelection.