BROOKLYN CENTER, Minn. -- Fifty-two new students started all-day kindergarten at Garden City Elementary School on Tuesday. They were greeted by one of all-day kindergarten's biggest supporters: Gov. Mark Dayton.
Statewide almost 60,000 kids will attend all-day kindergarten this fall thanks to a $134 million investment. Dayton believes it is one of the most powerful tools in bridging the achievement gap.
"I think it will give kids that otherwise would start with a disadvantage a chance to get caught up before they even get started, and then realize the ability they have to be successful," Dayton said.
During a round table discussion with school leaders, Gov. Dayton and Commissioner of Education Brenda Cassellius heard from kindergarten teachers, some who have taught all-day kindergarten.
"We learned from these great teachers that having that time, being able to spread it out throughout the day really does matter," Cassellius said.
Also new this year is a nearly $3 million investment in nutrition programs, which gives all kindergartners free breakfast and allows access to lunch for all kids. The initiative came after it was discovered that some school districts denied students lunch if they couldn't pay.