Pine School Still Offering Free All-Day Kindergarten

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Despite losing state funding for all-day kindergarten, the Pine Strawberry Elementary School will still offer it next year at no cost to parents, Superintendent Mike Clark said recently.

Arizona has a special funding formula for schools with fewer than 600 students, and Clark said lawmakers essentially left it alone.

“We are looking OK,” he said. “This is when it’s a good time to be small.” The school enrolls approximately 124 students, and has so far escaped cuts.

Although the state will no longer pay for all-day kindergarten, the school has chosen to pick up the $14,000 tab.

The school will also see a 40 percent cut on soft capital, down to $60,000. The money pays for things like textbooks and computers. Larger schools, however, lost 80 percent of that funding.

Clark said that the board adopted a new curriculum several years ago, which included purchasing new textbooks. “I don’t have a big soft (capital) expenditure looking me in the eye for another couple of years,” he said.

The news offered relief to the school, which had contemplated cutting pre-school and reorganizing middle school if finances required.

Pine Strawberry Elementary runs on about $2.4 million each year, half of that small schools funding.

“Thank goodness we’re small and the Legislature has decided not to mess with the small schools,” Clark said. “If everything remains as it is today, I’ll be OK at least for the next school year.”

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