BOULDER, Colo. — Students returned to school Friday morning, and for the first time, kindergarteners can stay at school for a full day at no cost to their families.

Tuition-free, full-day kindergarten took effect this school year in schools across Colorado. Democratic Governor Jared Polis campaigned on the idea, and celebrated the change by visiting several kindergarten classes this week as students began the year.

Polis said about 99 percent of schools are offering free, full-day kindergarten starting this year.

“It should be available for pretty much every kid in Colorado,” Polis said while visiting a school in Boulder.

“Here, where we are in Boulder Valley School District, full-day kindergarten cost families $450-$500 a month. Many people couldn’t afford it. Other districts, [it cost] $300-$400. So now it’s free for everybody."

When Lisa Schwartz and Ben Oppenheimer’s oldest daughter, Violet, attended kindergarten at Crest View Elementary in Boulder, they paid hundreds of dollars a month to keep her in class all day.

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“We loved the enrichment teachers and developmental play type of activity that they did, but it did cost $500 a month,” Schwartz said.

Their youngest daughter, Pearl, begins kindergarten this year. She will also attend school for the full day, but this time it won’t cost the family.

Pearl Oppenheimer
Pearl Oppenheimer, 4, plays on the playground outsider Crest View Elementary in Boulder. She starts kindergarten this month.
KUSA

“As a working parent, I’m pretty excited to apply that money [instead] toward babysitters that we still need after school,” Schwartz said.

She also sees a huge benefit for other families.

RELATED: Colorado families could save thousands on full-day kindergarten next year. Here's how.

“For other parents who couldn’t afford that, this is obviously more equitable and gives everyone a chance to get a head start. And I think it’s really important that they have full-day kindergarten.”

The Joint Budget Commission approved $185 million in state funds to pay for full-day kindergarten this school year.

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