Almost 1,800 students and more than 90 teachers are back in the classroom Monday, July 2, marking the start of the K-3 Plus program. K-3 Plus is an optional early education program that offers kindergarten through third-grade students 25 additional days of classroom instruction prior to the beginning of the regular school year. The program runs from July 2 through Aug. 6, Monday through Friday from 7:55 a.m. – 2:30 p.m. at 20 elementary schools across Las Cruces Public Schools.

“By starting the school year early, the program allows teachers to provide students with additional attention with regards to literacy, numeracy, technology and social development,” said LCPS Associate Superintendent of Leadership Tiffany Gomez. “It also helps reduce summer learning loss, strengthens the year-to-year retention of knowledge and contributes to a year-round atmosphere of learning.”

Breakfast, lunch and transportation is being provided for students at all participating schools and daily attendance is highly encouraged, Gomez said.

Gomez also explained that in order to be eligible for program funding, participating schools must be considered high-poverty public schools, in which 80 percent or more of the students are eligible for free or reduced-price lunches at the time the public school applies for funding, or an elementary school which received a D or F school grade from the Public Education Department during the previous year.

The following schools are participating in the K-3 Plus program: Alameda Elementary School, Booker T. Washington Elementary School, Central Elementary School, César E. Chávez Elementary School, Columbia Elementary School, Conlee Elementary School, Doña Ana Elementary School, East Picacho Elementary School, Hermosa Heights Elementary School, Jornada Elementary School, Loma Heights Elementary School, MacArthur Elementary School, Mesilla Elementary, Mesilla Park Elementary, Monte Vista Elementary School, Sonoma Elementary School, Sunrise Elementary School, Tombaugh Elementary School, University Hills Elementary School and Valley View Elementary School.

K–3 Plus was established in 2007 as a way to provide increased instructional time in kindergarten and the early grades to help narrow the achievement gap between at-risk students and other students, increase cognitive skills, and lead to higher achievement scores for all participants, according to the PED website.

A July 2012 Legislative Finance Committee report cited a study conducted by Utah State University found that the program produced positive effects on third grade reading, writing, and math performance. The study also indicated that the benefits from reduced grade retention and remediation services, offset all costs from K–3 Plus programs, according to the PED’s K–3 Plus Annual Report for School Year 2015–2016.

Parents may still register their children for the K-3 Plus program by contacting their child’s qualifying elementary school.

— Damien Willis, LCPS Director of Communications, 575-527-5811, dwillis@lcps.net