More families enrolling children into full-day kindergarten than expected; cost increase expected

DENVER -- More Colorado families are enrolling their children into full-day kindergarten than expected, according to a new report first published in the Colorado Sun regarding expected enrollment. The report is based on a survey recently turned in by school districts.

Originally, when Gov. Jared Polis signed a bill into law paying for full-day kindergarten in Colorado for the very first time, it was anticipated around 85% of eligible kindergartners would participate. Now, it is expected to be around 99%.

The extra cost could easily exceed $40 million.

The Polis administration responded Monday with a statement emphasizing how the program is clearly successful and not expressing any worry about the cost.

Conor Cahill, a spokesman for the governor, said:

“The news that more school districts and families will take advantage of full-day kindergarten is great news for our state and parents. Full-day kindergarten has been long overdue in Colorado, will improve student outcomes, save families money, and help our economy. There is always a true-up after the count each year to address higher or lower student counts, and last year we came in lower than expected. We always anticipated a supplemental after the October count date, and we look forward to working with the General Assembly to address any positive or negative differences in projected funding across the entire K-12 system at that time.”

Bill Jaeger, with the Colorado Children's Campaign, says lawmakers will have to wait until October to see how many students actually enroll. That will ultimately determine cost.

"I think knowing so many school districts are offering it is great news. The question is: how many parents take advantage of it? That's what we will see on the October 1 count," Jaeger said. "The actual cost of all-day kindergarten will be determined based on how many kids actually enroll this fall."

Below is a summary of responses for the 36 districts that had at least some students enrolled in half-day programs during the 2018-2019 school year (SY):

Academy 20 – plans to implement full-day kindergarten in the 2019-2020 school year for 22 schools

Adams 12 - plans to implement in SY19-20 for 23 schools

Adams Arapahoe 28J – plans to implement in SY19-20 for 1 school

Archuleta County 50 JT – plans to implement in SY19-20 for 1 school

Bennett 29J – plans to implement in SY19-20 for 1 school

Big Sandy – plans to implement in SY19-20 for 1 school

Boulder Valley RE 2 – plans to implement in SY19-20 for 26 schools

Byers 32J – plans to implement in SY19-20 for 3 schools

Cherry Creek - plans to implement in SY19-20 for 39 schools and does not intend to implement at this time for 1 school

Charter School Institute - plans to implement in SY19-20 for 8 schools as well as in 2 new schools that will be opening in the fall of 2019; is SY23-24 for 1 school and 1 school does not intend to implement at this time.

Cheyenne Mountain 12 – plans to implement in SY19-20 for 1 school

Colorado Springs 11 – indicated they have implemented (5 schools)

Delta County 50J – plans to implement in SY19-20 for 1 school

Douglas County RE 1 – plans to implement in SY19-20 for 55 schools

Eagle County RE 50 – plans to implement in SY19-20 for 4 schools

Falcon 49 – indicated they have implemented (2 schools)

Garfield RE-2 – plans to implement in SY19-20 for 6 schools

Greeley 6 – plans to implement in SY19-20 for 4 schools

Jefferson County R-1 – indicated they have implemented (71 schools)

Johnstown-Milliken RE-5J - plans to implement in SY19-20 for 4 schools

Lewis Palmer 38 – plans to implement in SY19-20 for 6 schools

Littleton 6 – plans to implement in SY19-20 for 10 schools

Lone Star 101 – indicated they have implemented (1 school)

Mesa County Valley 51 – plans to implement in SY19-20 for 24 schools

Montezuma-Cortez RE-1 – indicated they have implemented (3 schools)

Park County RE-2 – plans to implement in SY19-20 for 3 schools, including Lake George

Poudre R-1 - plans to implement in SY19-20 for 30 schools

Roaring Fork RE-1 – plans to implement in SY19-20 for 5 schools

School District 27J – plans to implement in SY19-20 for 8 schools

Silverton 1– plans to implement in SY19-20 for 1 school

St. Vrain Valley RE 1J – plans to implement in SY19-20 for 26 schools and in SY20-21 for 2 schools

Telluride R-1 – plans to implement in SY19-20 for 1 school

Thompson R2-J – plans to implement in SY19-20 for 14 schools

Weld County RE-3J – indicated they have implemented (1 school)

Weldon Valley Re-20(J) – indicated they have implemented (1 school)

Windsor RE-4 - plans to implement in SY19-20 for 0 schools, SY20-21 for 3 schools and in SY22-23 for 2 schools. (UPDATE: A spokesman for the district says it will offer full day kindergarten despite what the survey said.) 

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