Mukilteo’s all-day kindergarten school to be ‘a happy place’

MUKILTEO — The Mukilteo School District plans to open a new school in the fall only for kindergarten students — part of an expansion to provide all-day kindergarten district-wide for the first time.

“We’re excited about the fact we can offer full-day kindergarten for all kids of that age,” said school district spokesman Andy Muntz. “It’s something we’ve been wanting to do.”

The district’s kindergarten registration opens March 6.

Even though the state has provided local districts money for all-day kindergarten, in 2013 Mukilteo turned it down. The district didn’t have enough classrooms to provide all-day kindergarten classes.

“If you go from half- to full-day, you need twice as many classrooms and teachers,” Muntz said.

In 2014, voters approved a $119 million bond issue, with $33.5 million of that budgeted for the new kindergarten-only school.

The district now has about 1,000 kindergarten students. Some 230 of them are attending all-day kindergarten classes at Lake Stickney and Odyssey elementary schools. The rest attend half-day programs at 10 elementary schools.

“We offered all-day kindergarten at those two schools to give us an opportunity to go through a year to see how it all works before we expand to everybody the following year,” Muntz said.

It also gives the district time to hire the additional staff needed to provide all-day classes for kindergartners, he said.

The new kindergarten center is one of only a handful of kindergarten-only schools in the state. The school is being built on Beverly Park Road behind Fairmount Elementary School. It is designed specifically for the needs of younger students, Muntz said.

“One of the things we were really concerned about is them feeling overwhelmed in a school with 500 kids,” he said. “It’s been split up into smaller units so they won’t go into a a cafeteria with 500 other kindergartners.”

There also are more, smaller playgrounds rather than one big one. And the school’s floors are heated “because kindergartners sit on the floor a lot,” Muntz said.

“The kindergarten center will be really fun,” he said. “A whole school full of kindergartners. What a happy place. Can you imagine?”

Sharon Salyer: 425-339-3486 or salyer@heraldnet.com

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