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Saskatoon public schools to expand full-day kindergarten, thanks to fundraising campaign

Saskatoon Public Schools will double its full-day kindergarten program for the coming year.

Funding has been provided for 28 Kindergarten classes by the Saskatoon Public Schools Foundation (SPSF). The money was raised as part of the Early Learning Equal Start campaign that sought to raise $20 million.

“Kindergarten is the best time for kids to be in class, full day, every day learning,” the foundation's CEO Zeba Ahmad told CTV News.

The money will mean that the division will offer full-day Kindergarten in 25 of its schools during the next school year. That's up from around a dozen.

“We saw such huge growth in our children's social emotional growth, their curricular outcomes,” Saskatoon Public School learning support coordinator Michelle Howard told CTV News.

“We really believed that it was setting the tone and lay the foundation to ease into that transition into Grade 1.”

The new program will have enough space for over 670 students, Ahmad said.

“What's important to us as the foundation is our goal to increase Grade 3 level literacy within Saskatoon public and be a model for other school divisions as well as in the province,” she said.

“Grade 3 literacy is critical in the future for high school graduation. It's a very good benchmark. It's a critical milestone.”

While other provinces conduct student assessments at different grade levels, Saskatchewan is the only province that does not, according to the Fraser Institute.

However, Ahmad said the foundation was tracking students' progress. She said the data showed that 80 per cent of the students in the full-day programs were grade-level ready, compared with 50 per cent of those who don’t attend full-day programs.

“Having a full-day kindergarten program gives teachers the gift of time with a student because now they have more of an opportunity to observe kids, to work with them,” Ahmad said.

She said the foundation also funds speech-language pathology, occupational therapy and early learning consultants to help students who may have extra challenges.

“That gift of time makes such a big difference. And if we can help these kids sooner rather than later, we're giving them the tools.”

Howard said the funding would allow the program to run for three more years. Top Stories

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