North Idaho STEM to offer all-day kindergarten

RATHDRUM, Idaho — North Idaho STEM in Rathdrum will soon be able to offer two all-day kindergarten classes. They currently only have two half-day kindergarten classes.

This is thanks to the J.A. and Kathryn Albertson Family Foundation. They donated $1.5 million to a education non-profit Bluum to help 17 Idaho schools.

According to a release, this grant will let 1,000 kids attend all-day kindergarten for free in the state.

“Providing all-day kindergarten, at no cost to families is an important part of setting a great foundation for learning and ensuring all families are able to choose a school that is right for them,” said Roger Quarles, the J.A. and Kathryn Albertson Family Foundation’s executive director.

Scott Thomson, the principal of North Idaho STEM said they’re excited. Providing all-day kindergarten won’t cost the school a thing.

“We don’t receive bond or levy money, local tax dollars for facilities or for extra programs, so this is extremely helpful when it comes to a full day kindergarten because the state funds basically… half day kindergarten. To be able to do it full day without charging tuition thanks to Albertson’s foundation, we’ll be able to do that,” he said.

North Idaho STEM is a charter school that teaches students science, technology, engineering and math, hoping to get their students ready to “meet the challenges in the world around them,” according to their website.

Thomson said they teach their kids “the standards and above the standards.”

Their curriculum is accelerated, meaning kids in kindergarten should know first grade math by the time they finish kindergarten this school year.

It’s hard for their one kindergarten teacher now, because students coming into kindergarten aren’t all the same.

“We have students that come in that are already reading and some students coming in that have never seen a book. That’s very challenging for our kindergarten teacher and to make progress in one year in a half-day is challenging,” Thomson said.

With the chance to have all-day kindergarten next year, the kids will have more time to learn.

“It’s what our community needs. It’s what our children need and it’s going to help them so much,” said Kary Amburn, the kindergarten teacher. “It’s just going to help them prepare for first grade and be really successful.”

“We are excited and honored to be working with the J.A. and Kathryn Albertson Family Foundation and our partner schools to create all-day learning opportunities for more Idaho children. This pilot should provide some important insights into what does and what doesn’t work when it comes to improving the literacy and numeracy skills of our youngest learners,” said Terry Ryan, Bluum’s CEO.

North Idaho STEM is already accepting applications for the 2020/2021 school year, click here to learn more.

A list of other schools that will be able to offer all-day kindergarten:

  • Alturas International Academy (Idaho Falls)
  • Anser Charter School (Garden City)
  • Compass Public Charter School (Meridian)
  • Forge International School (Middleton)
  • Future Public Charter School (Garden City)
  • Gem Prep: Meridian
  • Gem Prep: Nampa
  • Gem Prep: Meridian North
  • Gem Prep: Pocatello
  • Idaho Arts Charter School
  • MOSAICS Public Charter School (Caldwell)
  • North Idaho STEM (Rathdrum)
  • Sage International (Boise)
  • St. Ignatius (Meridian)
  • Treasure Valley Classical Academy (Fruitland)
  • Upper Carmen Charter School
  • Island Park Charter School