As is the case every year on the Western Slope, summer has come to an end much too soon. While a return to school this week may be routine for kids and parents, many families in Mesa County and thousands more across Colorado have a new cause for celebration this month: full-day kindergarten at no cost to parents.
While many communities in Colorado have increased access to full-day kindergarten in recent years, according to a survey from the state Department of Education, 14,000 children in approximately 20% of Colorado’s 178 school districts were without access to this important educational resource at the end of 2018. The primary reason for this was inadequate state funding that left a veritable checkerboard of inequality across Colorado. While some districts offered free full-day kindergarten, dozens more either charged families as much as $500 per month in tuition or they merely declined to offer the service.