Gov. Mark Dayton takes a break to sing songs and do crafts at Kaposia

Gov. Mark Dayton joins in on one of the activities during class at Kaposia called “choices,” where students choose a toy to play with and share with others. (Marjorie Otto photos/Review)

Lt. Gov. Tina Smith asks the students what kind of craft they were putting together.

Gov. Mark Dayton, along with Lt. Gov. Tina Smith, visited South St. Paul Schools’ Kaposia Education Center, a half-day preschool, on March 31. 

The visit aligns with Dayton’s proposal for $25 million towards more pre-kindergarten programs for more families. 

The event included a 45-minute roundtable discussion with teachers, school staff, school board members, politicians and a few parents. Dayton and Smith also had a chance to interact with the children, which the governor added, is something he always looks forward to.

The goal of Dayton’s $25 million proposal is to prepare students for success in school by making pre-kindergarten programs more available to families, thereby addressing Minnesota’s achievement gap.

Superintendent Dave Webb said that “reading, writing, listening and speaking skills are all apart of a child’s development.” These are skills that the children at Kaposia are practicing, along with storytime and crafts.

He said the earlier a child can start practicing those skills, the easier school will be later on. 

The district currently offers half-day preschool for either five, four or three days a week.

In addition to the half-day preschool, the district also has a scholarship program for families in need to have their children bussed to preschool and receive breakfast and lunch. 

Webb said the school district is trying to take down barriers so all families have the opportunity to go to pre-kindergarten programs. 

Webb said that Dayton’s proposal aligns with the goals of South St. Paul schools in that if the governor’s proposal is passed by the state Legislature, it would allow the schools to serve more of the neediest families in the district and make pre-kindergarten available to more families.

During his visit to Kaposia, Dayton said he wants to make state-funded pre-kindergarten universal and said that his proposal would be “targeting those in need.”

Webb said the governor chose Kaposia for the visit because it is within Sen. Katie Sieben’s district. Sieben recently introduced a bill calling for the amount of pre-kindergarten hours, if a district offers it, to be 350 hours of instruction.

He also said Kaposia has just opened its addition to the building this school year as a direct result of a building bond from two years ago.

Webb added that he and the school district were honored the governor and lieutenant governor chose their school as the place to visit. 


Marjorie Otto can be reached at 651-748-7816 or at Follow her on Twitter at @EastSideM_Otto.


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