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School Welcomes MN Governor’s Budget Proposal

February 17, 2011, 4:52 PM by Shawn Neisteadt

School Welcomes MN Governor’s Budget Proposal
LUVERNE, MN - Minnesota Governor Mark Dayton's proposed state budget includes $52 million in new money for education. Of that, $33 million is for a program to help more districts offer all-day kindergarten. And a southwest Minnesota school welcomes the idea.

While many states are proposing cuts to education funding, Luverne, Minnesota, kindergarten students are keeping the cuts to their art projects. Like more than half of Minnesota schools, Luverne currently offers half-day kindergarten.

"We did have all-day, every day kindergarten at one point in time, but a few years ago when we were going through budget cuts, that was unfortunately one of the cuts that we had," Principal Stacy Gillette said.

Parents in Luverne can keep their kindergarten students in class all day, but that program comes with a price of $130 per month. Administrators here welcome the Governor's idea and are optimistic it could help them keep all of the students in class, all day.

"Across the state, principals have been asking for more support for our youngest learners. It's been proven that when we get to these kids early, we reap the benefits later," Gillette said. 

Dayton's proposal is just that at this point, a proposal. But at the very least, it's giving Minnesota educators some hope.

"The more they're here, the more we can work with them," Gillette said.

Sixty percent of the kindergarten students in Luverne are enrolled in the afternoon program. Some families choose not to participate, while others simply can't afford it. That's why Minnesota educators welcome any idea to boost funding for the youngest students.

"Obviously, I think there is definitely a benefit for coming all day.  Just the socialization and the exposure," Gillette said.

If approved, it will take more than two years for the additional money to reach school districts.

As Dayton tours the state in support of his budget, Republican Lawmakers have been on their own tour to discredit the governor's proposal.

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