Archive for Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Kansas full-day kindergarten plan likely won’t advance, House speaker says

March 25, 2014

— House Speaker Ray Merrick, R-Stilwell, on Tuesday said Gov. Sam Brownback's proposal to provide state funding for full-day kindergarten probably isn't advancing during the current legislative session.

Merrick indicated the kindergarten issue was getting swallowed up in the legislative response to the recent school finance decision by the Kansas Supreme Court, which ordered legislators to restore funding that helps poor school districts.

When the 2014 legislative session started in January, Brownback proposed phasing in state funding to pay for all-day kindergarten.

The state currently pays for half-day, but 87 percent of Kansas kindergartners are already in full-day kindergarten. School districts make up the difference by using other funds or charging fees.

Brownback's proposal would have added $16 million each year for five years to cover the full cost of full-day kindergarten for a total price tag of $80 million.

Legislators and school officials have said satisfying the Supreme Court order to equalize funding to low-wealth districts could cost $129 million.

Asked to respond to Merrick's comment, Gov. Sam Brownback issued this statement: "Our focus is on solving the equity issue for our schools. Working with legislative leadership, I am looking at a wide range of options to resolve this issue."


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