PRESS RELEASE - June 2, 2003
New Mexico State Department
of Education

300 Don Gaspar
Santa Fe, NM 87501-2786

Ruth Williams
Public Outreach Director
(505) 476-0393

SDE Expands Funding for Full-Day Kindergarten Pilot

(Santa Fe, NM)— The New Mexico State Department of Education (SDE) announced today that the four districts designated by the Legislature to implement the new Full-Day Kindergarten Plus Pilot Program over three-years will receive an additional $300,000 in New Mexico Reading First funds. The districts are the Albuquerque Public Schools, Gadsden Independent Schools, Gallup-McKinley County Public Schools and Las Cruces Public Schools.

“This is an exciting initiative that will examine the efficacy of an extended kindergarten program for students most in need,” said Sharon Dogruel, program manager for the SDE’s Curriculum, Instruction and Learning Technologies (CILT) Unit. “We are extremely appreciative of Rep. Mimi Stewart’s sponsorship and guidance in designing the program.”

Rep. Stewart of Albuquerque sponsored HB 61, passed by the 2003 Legislature and signed into law by Governor Bill Richardson, designating the pilot program and the participating districts. The program is designed to demonstrate the extent to which increased time in kindergarten can narrow the achievement gap and increase cognitive skills for economically disadvantaged students.

The additional $300,000 will supplement the original $100,000 for the program, provided in the Supplemental General Appropriations Act of 2003. With the additional funding, each district will receive up to $100,000, based on the established unit value for full-day kindergarten students, beginning on July 1, 2003.

Each district must submit applications on behalf of eligible schools to the SDE by June 15, 2003, in order to secure the funding. Eligible schools are those with an approved Full-Day Kindergarten Literacy Readiness Program in effect and with 85 percent or more of their students eligible for free or reduced lunch. And each school’s instructional program must be comprehensive, developmentally appropriate and based on scientifically based reading research.

Funds may be used to support teacher’s salaries and salaries for educational assistants, paid at the same rate and under the same terms as regular full-day kindergarten program staff, supplies, materials and administrative costs.

Program implementation will begin this summer and conclude in the summer of 2004. At the end of the program cycle, an external evaluator will determine each program’s effectiveness. “Our hope is that the pilot programs will advance each student’s literacy, numeracy and social skills,” Dogruel said.