As of Monday, January 6, 2014
Five years ago the local school district opened up the first-ever elementary school for kindergarten students only in Sunnyside. Sun Valley Elementary School was the first of its kind, and has over the years experienced a steady increase in enrollment. Now bulging at the seams, the decision has been made to educate kindergarten students at Outlook Elementary School. During the 2012-13 school year enrollment numbers topped out at 630 students at Sun Valley Elementary School. Executive Services Director Curtis Campbell of the Sunnyside School District said having 600-plus kindergarteners at Sun Valley wasn't an ideal situation. "We want to avoid that this year (2013-14)," said Sunnyside School District Finance Director Jeff Loe, stating that legislators have approved funding for three kindergarten classes at Outlook Elementary School. To fund all-day kindergarten at Outlook Elementary School, the school district had to apply for state education dollars. The legislature approved additional funding for full-day kindergarten during the most recent legislative session and schools with the highest percentage of low-income students are eligible for the funding. State Superintendent of Public Instruction Randy Dorn said state funding of full-day kindergarten is a critical component of basic education. He said it is vital to give students a strong start to their educational careers. "We've had all-day kindergarten for a while at Sun Valley Elementary School," said Campbell. Loe said that won't change. What will change is the number of students attending Sun Valley because three classrooms for kindergarten students will be up and running at Outlook Elementary School this fall. Loe said all of the schools within the Sunnyside School District qualify for full-day kindergarten funding, but the only two receiving the funding are Sun Valley and Outlook elementary schools. "The others just don't maintain kindergarten classrooms," said Loe. Campbell said it is not yet known what enrollment numbers will be for the 2013-14 school year, but the district is taking precautionary measures to provide students and teachers an environment that is not bursting at the seams.