It may have been easier to count who was not in attendance than to tally up the legion of public officials in attendance for Thursday's celebration of the much-anticipated pre-kindergarten partnership
between the city of Boise and the Boise Independent School District.
City council members, Idaho legislators, school board members, educators and even Boise Police Chief Bill Bones were on hand to cheer the Monday, Nov. 2 start of free pre-K classes at Hawthorne and Whitney elementary schools in Boise's Vista neighborhood.
"This is a watershed day for our city and maybe our state," said Boise Mayor Dave Bieter, who was the first of a list of speakers who all took note that Boise should serve as a model for "free, high-quality pre-K for all of Idaho."
Though several proposals have come and gone, the Idaho Legislature has yet to entertain a measure that would provide a free pre-K opportunity for all Idaho children.
United Way of Idaho Executive Director Nora Carpenter pointed to Bieter and Boise School Superintendent Don Coberly for the collaboration.
"This was a very bold thing for you to do, Mr. Mayor and Superintendent Coberly," said Carpenter. "And it's so impressive that you packed this room at Whitney Elementary today. So, let's pack the lives of these young people beginning next week and continue packing their lives until they achieve careers and come back here when they're adults to pack the room again for another generation of young people."
Coberly said, "I have to give credit where credit is due. The city of Boise came to us
and said we need to do this."
The pre-K project is part of Bieter's Energize Our Neighborhoods initiative, which has targeted the Vista neighborhood
for what hizzoner calls "measurable change.'
"Let's wrap this up," said Bieter, with an eye on a plate of specially-designed "Boise Pre-K Project" cookies. "I'm all about healthy snacks but those are great cookies."