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Two schools will get kindergarten classrooms this summer

Two more Farmington schools will be getting additional kindergarten rooms this summer.

The city's planning commission last week cleared the way for construction at Akin Road and Farmington Elementary schools. Each school will be getting two extra classrooms, paid for by the $45 million referendum passed by voters in 2015.

The classrooms are being built in response to the state's decision in 2014 to pick up the $134 million cost for full-day kindergarten.

Before that, about half of the state's schools were offering free full-day programming. Others offered it, but charged up to $4,000 a year.

Farmington's kindergarten has evolved from a central location — the Kindergarten Center in downtown Farmington — to placing the classes into the schools in 2010, to now expanding to accommodate its 514 kindergartners.

The commission approved a conditional use permit for the school district for both locations in regards to variances for setback requirements.

Farmington Elementary, at 500 Maple St., will build a 3,000-square-foot addition onto the southeastern portion of the existing school building. This will require the removal of an existing sidewalk that runs along the southern boundary of the building. A new sidewalk will be installed and routed around the proposed addition and will connect with the sidewalk that is in the boulevard of Sixth Street.

Farmington Elementary currently has 105 kindergartners attending.

"When all day (kindergarten) started, we were no longer able to use one classroom for two different classes," Principal Kim Bollesen said. "This is a great addition for our school. It will mean that all of our kindergarten classes will be together."

Akin Road Elementary, at 5231 195th St. W., also will be building a 3,000-square-foot addition. The classrooms will take over what is now a small playground on the southeastern end of the school. The expansion also will displace a sidewalk that currently extends east from the playground to the parking area in front of the building. A new sidewalk will be installed and routed around the addition and the playground will be relocated to the other end of the building.

Akin Road currently has 100 kindergarten students.

“We will now have space for the projected growth in our district,” Principal Lisa Reichelt said.

Angela Otteson, an associate with Wold Architects and Engineers which is overseeing the project, explained that the additions are necessary because of all-day kindergarten and because that age group requires a larger space for more sensory needs, such as sitting on a rug for story time, moving to a table for an activity, or having space for sand or water use.

"They learn a little differently than the older kids do," she said.

Kindergarten classrooms were added to North Trail and Meadowview Elementary schools last summer.

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