HUDSONVILLE, Mich. (WZZM) - Earlier this year, the State of Michigan gave public schools the option: offer full-day, everyday kindergarten, or lose half their state funding for each kindergarten student in their district.
Many school administrators weren't necessarily against the move, but against the timing.
School funding had already been slashed over the past few years and now implementing full-day K would cost districts like the Hudsonville School District $2 million. But many school administrators made the choice to offer it and had to kick into high gear this summer to prepare for next Tuesday.
Many area districts had to hire new teachers, buy more supplies, and learn new curriculum, but the Hudsonville district had to add space to three schools, all within two-and-a-half months.
Entire new wings were added on to Forest Grove Elementary and Jamestown Elementary, and Parker Elementary also underwent some renovations. There's still some construction left to do at Forest Grove.
The additions came out of the district's building and site fund, which Nick Ceglarek, Superintendent Hudsonville Public Schools said was approved by the voters.
But to fill the extra rooms, Ceglarek had to hire 10 new teachers at a cost of nearly $2 million. It's nearly the same amount he would have lost by not implementing full-day kindergarten.
"It was one way or the other, it was going to be a $2 million decision."
Over in Rockford, a few portables were the answer to the district's needs; extra classroom space was already available to meet the need for 10 additional classrooms.
Teachers' new curriculum includes music to keep kids in tune for longer periods of time and more time for everything excites kindergarten teacher Karen Boboltz.
"Math, science, literacy, there's many things we had to pick and choose," she said. "Now we can go back and expand on the pieces."
Instead of teaching two classes every other day, and half-days on Fridays, Boboltz now has fewer students and just one group to keep track of.
"They'll get to know me a little better, I'll get to know their families a little better. I feel like we have the opportunity to make that team and family connection," she said.
Now that kindergartners have their own space everyday, Boboltz says learning is bound to improve.
"Research shows with the consistency they will gain self-confidence," she said.
"Kids are going to have more time to focus on purposeful play, exploration, and be able to take things further than they would be able to in a half-day setting," said Sharon Wells, Meadow Ridge Principal and Early Childhood Director.
But the changes come at a cost.
"(We had to) order curriculum binders, manuals, books," said Wells.
And in furniture, and the district spent $4,200 for each of the 10 classrooms.
But here and in Hudsonville, school leaders believe a summer packed full of budgeting, training, and new construction is worth it for a half day more of learning.
Parent Open House for Meadow Ridge kindergarten students is Monday from 2:30 to 3:30 p.m.
Ceglarek says all the construction at his schools will be complete by the time students start school next Tuesday.