WL-WV parents are in the last year of tuition-based, all-day kindergarten option

There’s one big question facing children of preschool age that they won’t have to ask themselves much longer.

The days of choosing between full-day kindergarten — and its $3,510 tuition cost — and state-funded half-day sessions are numbered.

Beginning with the 2015-16 school year, Oregon’s Department of Education will fully fund full-day kindergarten classrooms. Currently, as in previous years, ODE funds half-day sessions for kindergartners, leaving parents to pick up the rest of the tab if they choose to send their kindergartners to school for a full school day.

After this school year, however, school districts in Oregon will receive full reimbursement from ODE for the cost of educating kindergartners at the same rate as students in any other grade.

That’s good news for parents of children ages 4 and younger. Those with children who will hit their fifth birthday before September 1 this year and who plan to enroll those children in public schools like one of WL-WV’s nine primary schools still have to decide whether to choose a half-day, no cost option or pony up nearly $400 per month during the school year; a $125 deposit at the time of registration is applied to the first month's payment.

A clear majority of parents in WL-WV have been choosing the latter in recent years. Just a few years ago, most primary schools in the district offered both full- and half-day sessions. The growing preference for full-day kindergarten education — even with its price tag — has led the district to scale back half-day offerings.

Ludwig“We’ve had all day kindergarten for years in this district, because of parent requests and because we saw the advantage of it,” Assistant Superintendent Kathy Ludwig said. “It was always tuition-supplemented. Most families say, ‘I really do prefer it, it’s just the tuition I have to work out,’” she added.

In the 2013-14 school year, the district offered a half-day program at all but two schools: Stafford and Sunset.

Families zoned for those schools could choose to switch to the tuition-based program and attend full-day kindergarten at their home school or have their child bussed to Cedaroak Park to attend half-day kindergarten there. This year, the district is committed to providing half-day kindergarten at one school in each city — but not at each school.

“As far as a completely intact half-day class, where all the children walk in and walk out at the same time, we’ll still offer one of those programs in each side of the district, at Lowrie and at Willamette,” Ludwig said. “If families really want to stay at their home school, their child can join a full-day class and parents can pick them up at midday. We’ll make sure their day has the full component of a kindergarten program.”

Ludwig was careful to note that the district is still expecting last-minute student registrations that could change things.

“Once secretaries come back in August, we’ll get another enrollment swoop,” she said. “That mainly hits our kindergarten, first-grade group.”

Ludwig was sympathetic to families’ desire to stay at their home school, no matter what kindergarten option they prefer.

“In this year of moving with the transition and trying to attend to what families would like, we’re trying some creative things, listening to our community and trying to allow them to stay in their home school and still have a program that they can work with and that we can offer,” she said.

Ironically, parents’ ability to choose — and to change their minds, even at the last minute — compromises the district’s ability to plan ahead and to confirm tentative class offerings.

“It’s the one grade level that’s a little more challenging for us to plan for in one sense,” Ludwig said. “Because there’s so much parent choice, we never know from year to year what people’s choices are going to be. ... Each school is trying to work it out differently, driven by the level of interest at each school and each school’s current situation.”

It’s up to principals at each primary school, working in coordination with the district office, to plan classroom communities. Options may include blended classrooms of half-day kindergartners and first-graders or of full- and half-day kindergarteners. In the latter case, Ludwig said, teachers and administrators would work to ensure that all students received a full kindergarten education, including literacy and math times as well as library, music and PE classes.

“The most important thing I want families to know is that we want to make sure your child has a really great experience in kindergarten,” Ludwig said. “We’ll really work hard to accommodate families’ needs, but we do have to have a program ready to run in September.”

Kindergarten registration forms are available online through the district website: Those who would like assistance or have questions should contact Ludwig personally, via email at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or via phone at 503-673-7031.

By Kate Hoots
Education reporter
503-636-1281, ext. 112
email: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
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