PRESS RELEASE - March 17, 2004
New Mexico Public Education Department
300 Don Gaspar
Santa Fe, NM 87501-2786

Ruth Williams
Public Outreach Director
(505) 476-0393

PED Seeks Applicants for Full-Day Kindergarten Program

(Santa Fe, NM)---Full-day kindergarten in New Mexico will reach a milestone in 2004-2005 when it celebrates its fifth, and final, year of phase-in. The New Mexico Public Education Department (PED) announced today that it is seeking applications for the program by April 15. "Since this is the final year of the phase-in, we expect that all schools will be funded," said Secretary of Education Dr. Veronica C. Garcia.

“We are extremely grateful to Governor Bill Richardson and the Public School Capital Outlay Council for making money available to fund portable classrooms before the start of the school year,” said Secretary Dr. García.

As required by statute, funded schools must have available classroom space for the optional full-day kindergarten program. “HB 294 will provide the 117 classrooms that are needed to complete the final year of the full-day kindergarten phase-in,” she said.

“Every child in New Mexico should be prepared to start first-grade,” Governor Bill Richardson said. “I’m fulfilling a campaign promise to make full-day kindergarten available to every five-year-old. And I’m making sure that all schools have the classroom space they need. Our goal is for 100% participation this fall.”

Currently, 299 programs in 68 school districts in New Mexico, representing 80% of kindergarten students, are receiving funding for the program, officially termed the “Optional Full-Day Kindergarten Literacy Readiness Program.” Priority was given to those schools because they had a high proportion of students most in need or were grade-level schools that served an entire district. The goal, as established by the Legislature in 2000, is for the remaining 20 percent (one-fifth) of kindergarten students to be funded in 2004-2005.

PED staff will review applications for final approval by Secretary Dr. García. Districts will be notified of their approval status no later than June 15, 2004.