Gov. Polis wants free all-day kindergarten available for all Colorado kids

DENVER -- Gov. Jared Polis said he wants all-day kindergarten available for all Colorado children -- for free -- and he wants it to start this fall.

"Our top priority this session is empowering every single Colorado community to offer free, full-day kindergarten in our great state of Colorado," the governor said Thursday during his State of the State address.

Early estimates show that would cost Colorado about $250 million per year.

Gov. Polis said he'll propose a way to pay for it with his budget later this month.

"We know that when children walk into school on grade level, that they're much more likely to be reading by the time they’re in third grade," said the Colorado Children's Campaign. "When we try to close gaps later on, it’s much more expensive. It’s much harder to do."

Some districts pay for all-day kindergarten, while others offer half-day for free and give parents the option to pay for the other half. That can sometimes cost hundreds of dollars per month.

"We need to start planting these seeds now and allowing them to develop who they are and build them, so they can be successful learners and life-long learners," said Leah Jackson, a parent of six children who all attended all-day kindergarten.

Jackson told FOX31 its made her kids more prepared for the rest of elementary school.

Jackson and  other parents with Stand for Children were at the governor's address and applauded him.

"Their future is our future," she said.

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