La Center to lose transitional kindergarten program next year


Parents who wish to send their children to preschool programs in La Center will need to look for private options next year as the school district’s transitional kindergarten (TK) program will be removed next school year.

The TK program at the La Center Elementary School building currently hosts 17 students. Similar to preschool, the program serves as a transitional classroom for 4-year-olds ahead of kindergarten. Last month, La Center School District Superintendent Peter Rosenkranz announced the program would not return next year due to a lack of funding.

“It’s a valuable program. Folks [who] are in it value the program. Unfortunately, I have to be able to afford it,” Rosenkranz said.

Rosenkranz explained that the Office of Superintendent of Public Instruction (OSPI) in Olympia grants funds to the TK program, which is funded outside of basic education. The La Center School District received $200,000 in TK program funds from OSPI for the 2024-25 school year, which Rosenkranz said is $75,000 too little to pay for staffing levels required by the state. He believes action from the state Legislature is necessary to continue to fund TK programs in Washington.

“There is some trepidation on my part as far as whether these programs will be able to continue because the state funding doesn’t come through the apportionment with K-12 education. It comes separately,” Rosenkranz said.

Cutting another school district program is infeasible, Rosenkranz said. The program currently hosts 17 of 120 eligible students. Although the main class will be removed next year, a separate TK program will remain available for students enrolled in special education. Otherwise, parents wanting to enroll their children in a similar preschool program will need to seek private options, Rosenkranz said. He said the community in and near La Center offers four preschool programs.

Rosenkranz said he would consider asking voters to fund the TK program through a levy, which would run in February of next year if approved by the school district’s Board of Directors. The board will discuss which programs to include in a potential levy late this year. The TK program’s inclusion in the levy will depend on the needs of other programs.

“It’s not as [simple] because there are other programs that are also competing for any additional dollars we have,” Rosenkranz said. “So we’d have to look and say, ‘OK, is that the highest priority for funding that would serve the most kids?’ ”