|Ruth Moyer Elementary School in Fort Thomas.|
Prefiled legislation cosponsored by Representative C. Ed Massey would make state funding for the entire cost of full-day kindergarten a permanent expenditure. Massey cosponsored Representative James A. Tipton’s BR 275, which was prefiled on September 9.
The vast majority of Kentucky’s school districts currently offer full-day kindergarten programs. However, the state only funds half of the costs—essentially half a day—and districts make up the difference with local taxes or tuition and fees. The General Assembly has debated funding the full cost for decades, and made a one-time investment of $140 million to do so in the current budget.
Since the beginning of the pandemic, priority on legislation has been crafting to provide schools with more flexibility, including the “test and stay” model for students and staff instead of quarantining, expanding remote learning and solutions to yearly funding.
“This is about making sure students gain the right skills and confidence in the classroom early, so they can graduate from high school and have fulfilling careers,” said Massey, who is a member of the House Committee on education. “All educators know that if a child is not on grade level reading by third grade, their chance of succeeding and graduation are compromised. Early childhood education is paramount in eliminating barriers to success.”
Lawmakers pointed to education data that shows, kindergarten provides the tools that students need to succeed on their educational journey, like early literacy, and socialization. The measure also allows school districts to free up funding and focus more on additional learning preparation programs or literacy programs that bolster the learning loss many have experienced.
“One of our top priorities is to help all children reach their full potential. That starts with creating clear, affordable pathways for learners to grow and succeed,” said Tipton. “This was a giant step in the right direction. We know that this investment will pay off in dividends for not only the children in our classrooms, but also our efforts to grow our economy, create jobs, and improve our quality of life.”
BR 275 can be found on the Legislative Research Commission’s website at www.legislature.ky.gov.