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Minnesota kindergartners start full day of learning

Students across Minnesota started all-day kindergarten on Tuesday after state lawmakers approved $134 million in new funding in 2013 that will provide about 60,000 students with a full day of school.

In past years, full-day kindergarten offerings varied by community because the state only provided funding for a half day. Some districts had a full day of classes for kindergartners and picked up the tab while others charged parents as much as $3,000 a year to offset the cost.

Making room for kindergartners to spend a full day at school was tough for some schools. In the past 18 months three dozen districts asked voters for new funds to accommodate the longer day, according to the Minnesota School Boards Association.

After taking control of the Legislature in 2013, DFL lawmakers saw funding all-day kindergarten as a way to combat Minnesota’s achievement gap between poor and minority students and their peers.

Republicans have criticized the move as too costly, saying it forces districts to fund certain programs instead of giving them freedom to choose what is best for their students.

The Pioneer Press is a media partner with Forum News Service.