The Rhode Island Department of Education announced the award today.
The money was made available through the Full-Day Kindergarten Accessibility Act, a law passed in 2012 by the state legislature.
Sen. Hannah M. Gallo, the bill's sponsor in the Senate, said "There is a wealth of data about the importance of early educational opportunities such as those provided through full-day kindergarten. It helps to close achievement gaps and improve academic success throughout students’ schooling. I am grateful to Commissioner Gist and the Department of Education for their support for this program."
Cranston got the most money out of the four districts getting funding. The others are Exeter-West Greenwich, getting $45,000; Glocester, getting $33,000; and Woonsocket, which will receive $72,928.
According to a release, A team from RIDE reviewed all applications for funding and awarded the funds based on the quality of the plan submitted, the quality of existing programming in the district, the capacity to start full-day kindergarten, the quality of key personnel, and the cost proposal, among other factors.
The four districts will use their funds to offset the one-time start-up costs of beginning a full-day kindergarten program, including such expenses as facilities upgrades, purchase of books and furniture, and curriculum development. The four districts receiving the funds will commit to maintaining the full-day kindergarten programs for at least five school years.
At present, 22 school districts in Rhode Island (plus all 8 charter public schools and state-operated schools with elementary-school grades) offer universal full-day kindergarten (i.e., for all kindergarten students in the school or district). There are 8 districts that offer no full-day kindergarten (including Cranston, Exeter-West Greenwich, and Glocester) and 5 districts (including Woonsocket) that offer only limited full-day kindergarten.
We'll post an update with reaction from local school officials as well as a more in-depth look at efforts to establish full-day K in Cranston soon. Check back later.