June 7, 2004
New Mexico Public Education Department
300 Don Gaspar
Santa Fe, NM 87501-2786

Ruth Williams
Public Outreach Director
(505) 476-0393

Full-day Kindergarten to Celebrate Final Year of Phase-In; 100 Schools Approved for Program in 2004-2005

(Santa Fe, NM)--Full-day kindergarten in New Mexico will reach a milestone in 2004-2005 as it celebrates its fifth, and final, year of phase-in. Secretary of Education Dr. Veronica C. Garcia announced today that she has approved programs for the remaining 20percent (one-fifth) of students for 2004-2005, thus providing 100percent of kindergarten students in New Mexico's public schools with full-day kindergarten programs.

The new full-day kindergarten programs for each district are available by clicking here. Districts new to the program are marked with an asterisk.

Secretary Dr. García approved 100 new full-day kindergarten programs from 38 school districts for 2004-2005, including 21 districts new to the program. As a result, a total of 398 schools in the state’s 89 public school districts will receive funding for full-day kindergarten programs next year. Funding for the programs will come from the State Equalization Guarantee (SEG) and TANF funds ($4 million).

“There is no better example of leaving no child behind in New Mexico than full-day kindergarten. The program has been a resounding success and is ensuring that our youngest students are provided with the best start in life. It is proof that we can, and will, change the status quo for students in New Mexico and prepare them for a lifetime of opportunities,” said Secretary Dr. García.

Governor Bill Richardson said, “Completion of full-day kindergarten fulfills a major promise of my campaign for Governor. This fall nearly 24,000 children will benefit from our Administration’s commitment. The program has leveled the playing field and will improve student achievement across the board.”

Funded schools must include a comprehensive research-based early literacy program that continues in the first and second grades following kindergarten. The program must include professional development and assessments, with schools administering a literacy-based pretest to kindergarten students by September 30 and posttest by April 30 of each year to assess student performance.

During the five-year phase-in period, preference has been given to schools that serve the highest proportion of at-risk students, schools with available classroom space and grade-level schools (containing all of the children at a certain grade level in a district).

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Page 2/Full-day Kindergarten to Celebrate Final Year of Phase-In; 100 Schools Approved for Program in 2004-2005

Governor Richardson announced in April 2004 approval by the State Board of Finance of $5 million for a plan to pay for classrooms to house full-day kindergarten programs. The action cleared the way for money to be used immediately to ensure that every five-year-old has access next year to classes offering full-day kindergarten.

Public School Facilities Authority Director Bob Gorrell said, “Parents of full-day kindergarten students deserve classrooms this year. We needed to order and install 116 new classrooms around the state under a tight time frame. But working closely with Dr. Garcia, her staff and the school districts, I'm pleased to report that all 116 classrooms will be delivered, fully installed by the end of July and ready for occupancy when students return this fall.”

Governor Richardson, working with the Legislature, included $5 million in general-obligation bond money to pay for full-day kindergarten classrooms. However, since voters must approve the bonds this fall, the money would not be available for the start of the next school year. If voters approve the G.O.-bond issue later this year, school districts will repay the Public School Capital Outlay Council from their G.O.-bond proceeds.