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Educators welcome full-day kindergarten but struggle to find classroom space at Greeley school

Posted at 4:15 PM, Aug 14, 2019
and last updated 2019-08-14 22:11:33-04

GREELEY, Colo. -- As students head back to school, there's a challenge to find room for kids in full-day kindergarten.

State lawmakers passed new legislation in April to fund free full-day kindergarten. Educators are welcoming the change and touting the benefits of sending kids to school all day but the move had them scrambling to change plans.

University Schools, a K-12 charter school in Greeley, is seeing a big demand. Prospective students have to enter a lottery and the school had to turn some away.

"We still have probably 145 or 150 applications for kindergarten that we were not able to fill," said Dr. Sherry Gerner, the director at University Schools.

The school is tripling its full-day kindergarten classes while continuing to offer a half-day sessions in the morning and afternoon.

"Across the state — I think for many schools, many families — it will be a huge benefit," said Dr. Gerner.

Over the summer break, staff shuffled classrooms and turned a computer lab into another classroom. They school also hired another teacher and a paraprofessional to accommodate the extra students.

"We have been creative in finding classrooms and making sure teachers have the resources that they need, but the bill has also helped us make sure that we have those resources. So that's been really great," said Michael Mazurana, elementary school principal for University Schools.

- Gov. Polis details full-day kindergarten proposal to lawmakers
- Colorado Joint Budget Committee gives preliminary approval to $185M for full-day kindergarten
- Tuition-free full-day kindergarten legislation takes effect in Colorado