All-day kindergarten is incredibly popular, as long as we can find the cash for it

All-day kindergarten is incredibly popular, as long as we can find the cash for it

Will someone think of the children? (Image: Woodley Wonderworks) 

The Province of Ontario has been rolling out its all-day kindergarten program for a while now—first as a pilot project, and the real deal this fall. While we’ve heard anecdotally that some teachers are stressed by the extended day, it seems to be very popular among parents desperately looking for a publicly funded babysitter new educational opportunities. According to the Globe and Mail, the surge in demand is straining school budgets:

Higher-than-expected enrolment at the first schools to offer full-day programs left the Peel District School Board, a large district that serves the suburbs west of Toronto, $1.3-million in the red, according to its calculations. The board decided recently to delay the rollout of all-day kindergarten to five schools in phase two, scheduled for next fall, unless the government picks up the tab.

Teachers overseeing full-day classrooms “overwhelmingly see value in the program,” said Ontario English Catholic Teachers Association president James Ryan.

Apparently schools in the Peel Board are simply telling parents that there’s no room left until—maybe?—next spring. Given that all-day kindergarten is another one of those things that Dalton McGuinty would like us all to remember on October 6, 2011, the province is sure to find the money somehow, somewhere for a second phase to run as smoothly as possible. Ontario has pledged nearly a quarter-billion dollars to fund expansions of kindergarten classes, according to the Globe, and if they dug deeper, we’re sure they would find some more.

And to keep it crassly political, we do wonder what the Tories will do if the all-day kindergarten remains as popular as it appears to be now: Tim Hudak had railed against it as too expensive while the province runs a deficit. Is there an about-face coming this summer? Silence? Or will Hudak stick to his guns?

Full-day kindergarten popularity outstrips plans to pay for it [Globe and Mail]