Lawmakers are debating whether Colorado should fund full-day kindergarten. Currently the state only pays for half-day kindergarten and school districts must pick up the rest of the tab, often charging parents several hundred dollars each month. Bente Birkeland has more from the state capitol.
Representative Jim Wilson (R- Salida) is sponsoring house bill 1022 to require Colorado to pay for full-day Kindergarten. The former school superintendent says the current system hurts school districts.
“They’re cutting either their general fund or charging parents, doing something to provide it. They’re the ones stuck funding for what we at the capitol claim credit for.”
Right now all but ten school districts offer full day Kindergarten, and they pay for it in a variety of ways. Democrats on the committee joined Wilson to support the bill that would cost nearly $250 million from the state budget. But even those who backed the bill warned that long-term funding would be tricky
“I also have concerns with the fiscal note, because of constitutional amendments we have a very limited budget and a lot of restrictions, but I will definitely be a yes today,” said House Education Committee Chair Brittany Petterson (D-Lakewood).
The measure now moves to the house appropriations committee. And in in a different room at the state house a Democratic proposal to add more funding to schools failed in the Republican state veteran’s and military affairs committee.
It would have taken a question to voters this fall on using refunds from the Tax Payers Bill of Rights to fund schools.
“ We could do things and make education a priority without thumbing our nose at TABOR and that’s what this does is thumb our nose at TABOR,” said Senator Jerry Sonnenberg (R-Sterling). He and other GOP members on the committee voted against the bill.
Democrats like Senator Matt Jones of Longmont thought it was a good plan to give voters a choice.
“This is TABOR, letting people vote on taxes is TABOR, that’s what it was sold on.”
Although it failed along party lines, it’s all part of a larger discussion on early childhood education as more children attend full day Kindergarten nationwide.
Education advocates highlight the importance of an early education to help build a strong foundation for the rest of a student’s learning.
Last session Rep. Jim Wilson, R-Salida also tried to pass a full day kindergarten proposal with a hefty price tag.
$855 million education funding shortfall
Sen. Andy Kerr, D-Lakewood is sponsoring a bill to take the question of full- day Kindergarten funding to voters this fall.
next fall on whether Colorado should fund full-day kindergarten. The bill proposes increasing funding during the next five years, making full-day kindergarten fully funded by 2021.
Senate Bill 23 is sponsored by Democratic Senator Andy Kerr of Lakewood. It would send a ballot question for voters this fall
256 million dollars by the summer of 2021 the state would be fully funding kindergarten throughout Colorado.