More all day kindergarten classes coming to Tri-Cities

TRI-CITIES, Wash. - All-day kindergarten is a plus for local education, but a last-minute decision by the state to cover the costs now has districts scrambling. They need to have classrooms and teachers in place for when school starts later this month. KEPR shows how they're rushing to get ready for your kids.

Marisela Soramiento has never known anything but half day kindergarten. Now the mother of seven, has another option.

"Wow, this is very good news, especially for my son. I feel like half a day they don't learn as much versus a whole day where they get a lot of information and physical activity," said Marisela Soramiento.

Marisela's son will go to the new all day program at Jefferson Elementary. It's the first public school in Richland to offer all day kinder and one of 12 across the Tri-Cities.

"A whole day will benefit them, they can learn more, color, and write and do what they need to do," said Soramiento.

Bringing in new prospective students for teacher Tammy Morrow. She's taught kindergarten for 12 years. Tammy taught all day kindergarten once.

"There was a huge difference in what these kids could do at the end of the year opposed to what the half day student could do," said Tammy Morrow.

Kennewick and Pasco already have schools offering all day kindergarten. Money from the state will cover the cost of three new programs in Kennewick and one in Pasco. By having more classes available, it could reduce the student to teacher ratio.

"Our class sizes are probably a little bigger than we want them to be," said assistant Super Intendent Greg Fancher.

Kennewick added six new portables to accommodate all day kindergarten classes and added the same number of teachers. Two will be hired in Richland and three in Pasco. The districts say the last minute news of funding from the state didn't put them in any more of a bind than the usual back to school rush.

"It's always a scramble, every year going back to school is a scramble, it's always a scramble" said Morrow.

And parents feel that scramble will be worth it in the end as the state prepares to make all day kinder a state standard in the coming years.

"You don't want them behind, you want them ahead," said Soramiento.

The state picked the schools to get all-day kindergarten based on how many students are living in poverty. The goal is to have all kindergartens be all day by 2017 across Washington state.