FRANKFORT, Ky. (WTVQ) – Legislation pre-tabled by Representative James A. Tipton (R-Tipton) would make state funding for the full cost of full-time kindergarten a permanent expense.
Tipton, who co-chairs both an education budget subcommittee and a special task force to study Kindergarten to 12e financing of primary education, pre-filed BR 275 on September 9.
âOne of our top priorities is to help all children reach their full potential. It starts with creating clear and affordable pathways for learners to grow and succeed, âsaid Representative Tipton, a long-time advocate for public education. âNot only is kindergarten their first experience in the classroom, but the concepts taught pave the way for many basic skills that each of us uses in everyday life. The gist of this funding is to close any gap in opportunity while opening those doors to Commonwealth families. “
The vast majority of school districts in Kentucky currently offer full-time kindergarten programs. However, the state only funds half the cost – essentially half a day – and the districts make up the difference with local taxes or tuition fees. The General Assembly has debated financing the full cost for decades and made a one-time investment of $ 140 million to do so in the current budget.
âIt was a giant step in the right direction, but now is the time to make a long-term commitment,â Tipton added. âWe know this investment will pay off not only for the children in our classrooms, but also for our efforts to grow our economy, create jobs and improve our quality of life. “
Tipton pointed to education data that shows kindergarten provides the tools students need to be successful in their educational journeys, such as early literacy and the practice of interacting with their peers. It goes beyond just teaching students to read, laying the groundwork for other important subjects like math, social studies, and science.
Tipton also quickly added that state funding for full-time kindergarten will provide local districts with a historic opportunity to focus on reading or learning preparation programs that help consolidate learning loss. caused by the pandemic.
âState funding provides a consistent source of revenue and frees up the funding that districts have used, but it also means we’re going to be keeping an eye on how they are using these funds,â Tipton said. “We know there are needs that need to be met, including children who have fallen behind because of this pandemic and the reliance on NTI and virtual learning.”