Gov. Polis’ full-day kindergarten program could bust its budget by $40 million in first year, state survey predicts
The Colorado Sun
School administrators anticipate near-universal attendance in free, full-day kindergarten this fall, a state survey found, which would blow a $40 million hole in the budget Colorado lawmakers set for the first year of the new program.
In the last school year, 36 of the Colorado’s 178 school districts had students enrolled in half-day kindergarten programs, according to the survey. All but one of those districts and one charter school network plan to move to all full-day kindergarten classes in the next school year, the survey by the Colorado Department of Education further found.
The rapid adoption rate by districts that previously enrolled students in half-day classes could signal budget trouble for the top policy issue Gov. Jared Polis pushed through the legislature this year.
“The news that more school districts and families will take advantage of full-day kindergarten is great news for our state and parents,” Conor Cahill, the governor’s spokesman, said Friday in an emailed statement. “Full-day kindergarten has been long overdue in Colorado, will improve student outcomes, save families money and help our economy.”
State lawmakers set aside $175 million from the general fund to cover operational costs related to full-day K in school districts, but that sum assumed an 85% attendance rate statewide. The legislature also agreed to use $25 million in marijuana sales tax revenue for school districts to buy furniture and make other upgrades to accommodate full-day programs.
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In terms of area, it’s the county’s smallest conservation deal ever. In terms of location, it’s one of the county’s rarest acquisitions.