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Districts can soon apply for almost $100M for full-day kindergarten facilities 

State Allocation Board approves application requirements and procedures at meeting

Nearly $100 million in state grant funds will soon be available to school districts for constructing new facilities or retrofitting existing ones to provide full-day kindergarten classrooms. The State Allocation Board approved the program’s regulations and authorized the one-time funds at its Oct. 24 meeting. The money was appropriated earlier this year from the General Fund to the Board by way of Assembly Bill 1808, the Education Finance: Education Omnibus Trailer Bill.

The Full-Day Kindergarten Facilities Grant Program comes as the state aims to put more of a focus on access to such programs and how they can help narrow achievement gaps, SAB member and State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Torlakson said at the meeting. “This investment makes a lot of sense and is going to be good for our students, not just in kindergarten but to high school and beyond,” he said. California Department of Education data shows that 70.5 percent of schools offered full-day kindergarten as of March 2017.

The first round of applications, from Jan. 2-31, 2019, will be for $37.5 million. The second period — May 1-30, 2019 — will be for $60 million and comes later so district officials have more time to prepare their applications for a larger chunk of the funds. The funding for kindergarten facilities is intended for full-day programs that are more than four hours long. Grants will be provided on a 50/50 state and local share basis for new construction projects and 60/40 state and local share basis for retrofit of existing facilities.

To be eligible for grant funds, districts must have passed, or pass by project completion, a school board resolution providing approval to provide full-day kindergarten; and the district must lack facilities to provide such instruction. A site will be found to be lacking the facilities “if the kindergarten enrollment at the site exceeds the existing kindergarten classroom capacity using the School Facility Program loading standard of 25 K-6 pupils per classroom.”

Priority for grants will be given to school districts that are either unable to contribute some or all of the local match or meet the requirements for financial hardship; and to districts in underserved communities with a high number of students eligible for free or reduced-price meals. A full look at the regulations, selection process and access to the application is available at the SAB website, www.dgs.ca.gov/opsc/AboutUs/sab.aspx.

In preparing the grant regulations and application process, SAB staff said they conducted three stakeholder meetings to receive feedback from districts. More than 300 people viewed the final meeting, SAB Executive Officer Lisa Silverman said.