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Funding younger children is vital

One of the biggest pieces of news to come out of the last-second state budget was that state funding for all-day kindergarten would be expanded.

Under the expansion, 43.75 percent of kindergarten students in the state will receive full-day classes this school year and in 2014-15, the Superintendent of Public Instruction said in a July 2 letter to districts.

This would open the door for all-day kindergarten in Curlew, Keller, Grand Coulee Dam, Mansfield, Okanogan, Omak and Paschal Sherman Indian School.

Although the state budget has been both lauded and criticized for its approach to education, funding all-day kindergarten is a big win for the future of the state.

Youth in our state seem to be falling further and further behind educational expectations.

Too many students are starting the first grade without the basic language skills required.

They’re already falling behind before they’ve even started their true educational career.

It puts students in an impossible situation, expecting them to play catch-up from Day One.

Omak was forced to cut all-day kindergarten as one of its budget-cutting measures a few years ago — a move that was difficult for members of the school board.

As the district went through the process of hiring a superintendent, the subject of all-day kindergarten came up often.

More funding for younger students doesn’t solve all the educational problems in the state. It doesn’t solve the fact that budgets have been getting constrained for several years now.

It doesn’t bring back all the teachers that have been laid off in recent years, or solve problems with schools that need to find new ways to be more efficient.

But nonetheless, funding all-day kindergarten is a vital first step to putting children on the right track for the rest of their lives.

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