PLYMOUTH, Minn. -- Nearly 60,000 students will start free all-day kindergarten on Tuesday. Among them will be Tyler Maahs.
"I can have more math," Tyler said as he showed off his new school supplies.
His mom, Kerry Maahs, said she knew she wanted all-day kindergarten for Tyler.
"I thought it helped my third one be better prepared for first grade," Kerry said.
Kerry was ready to enter Tyler into the Wayzata school district's all-day kindergarten lottery and pay tuition if he won. But she didn't have to thanks to Minnesota lawmakers, who approved $134 million dollars to fund all-day kindergarten.
"It was kind of a weight off my shoulders," Kerry said.
Her family isn't the only one getting ready for kindergarten. Crews at Tyler's school, Birchview Elementary, were busy all summer long, renovating the building. The school has been filled to the max for the last few years, and adding more students was a concern.
"We probably could have squeezed in a couple sections of kindergarten but we were afraid if we split the team and had a couple teachers here and a couple teachers there we'd miss out on that collaborative piece," Birchview Principal Sam Fredrickson said.
To alleviate the problem, kindergartners will be housed a block away in their own wing at Central Middle school. Fredrickson plans to take a nearby path to visit his kindergartners at least three times a week.
He'll be doing that for the next two years until a new $26 million elementary school is built. Wayzata, along with dozens other school districts passed referendums to help fund new buildings or classroom expansions for all-day kindergarten.
In Coon Rapids, renovations are also underway at Adams Elementary school. Unlike Wayzata, the Anoka-Hennepin school district didn't have to pass a tax levy because they've been planning for expansion for years, according to the district. Adams is getting a new $4 million wing for fourth and fifth graders while kindergartners move into the old wing.
Advocates say kids who attend all-day kindergarten are more prepared for school. Some research links all-day kindergarten to higher levels of early reading and math skills. Experts say the push to make sure kids are reading by the third grade is contributing to the demand for all-day kindergarten. Nationwide the percentage of kindergartners in full-day programs has grown to 76 percent from about 10 percent in the 1970's.