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Legislation Would Permanently Fund All-Day Kindergarten in Ky.

New legislation filed ahead of the 2022 Kentucky General Assembly session in January would make state funding available for the entire cost of full-day kindergarten.

The bill, co-sponsored by State Rep. Ed Massey (R-Hebron) would make the funds a permanent state expenditure.

Massey announced his cosponsorship of the legislation pre-filed by Rep. James Tipton (R-Taylorsville) on Sept. 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, an announcement said. 

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.

During the pandemic, Massey said that he has played an integral role in crafting COVID-related legislation aimed at providing 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.”

The full bill can be read here.

-Staff report