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Gov. Polis introduces fully-funded kindergarten to ‘make sure every child gets a strong start’

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GREELEY, Colo. — Gov. Jared Polis celebrated the largest increase in early childhood education in Colorado History alongside parents, legislatures,  staff and students of Greeley Elementary School on Friday.

The Colorado Joint Budget Committee set aside $185 million in funds to cover the cost of projected enrollments numbers.

Polis originally requested $227 million for the program. 

If the bill passes, funds begin rolling out at the beginning of the 2019-20 school year.

“We are pleased that the Joint Budget Committee has recognized the enormous impact that free, full-day kindergarten would have in our state and that legislators are introducing a bill to make this a reality, Gov. Polis said.

The funds will free up more than 5,000 Early Childhood At-Risk Enhancement (ECARE) slots for preschool, representing the largest increase in early childhood education in the state’s history.

It also allows for more resources for districts currently subsidizing their full-day program, enabling districts to focus on higher teacher salaries, smaller class sizes newer technology services.

“Full-day kindergarten saves families money, frees up funding for over 5,000 free preschool slots, gives parents the option of going back to work sooner, and ensures that all children can get a strong start,” he continued.

THE BILL ALSO:

  • Provides access to free full-day kindergarten for families, saving Colorado parents up to $500 per month on tuition fees.
  • Narrows persistent achievement gaps by helping to provide free full-day kindergarten to every single child — regardless of their ZIP code.
  • Allows school districts that currently use ECARE for full-day kindergarten to retain ECARE slots to use for full or half-day preschool within that district.
  • Clarifies that nothing requires a child to attend full-day kindergarten or prohibits a school district from offering half-day kindergarten.

Correction: A previous version of this story stated if the bill passes, funds begin rolling out at the beginning of the 2020-21 school year. The correct date is 2019-2020.

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