Editorial: Don’t ask Eagle Co. for kindergarten funding
Vail Daily Editorial Board
Vail, CO Colorado
Eagle County School District officials are pondering asking voters for the money to pay for all-day kindergarten for all the district’s students.
At the moment, the state only provides money for half-day programs. That means parents have to pay to send their first-year students to school all day.
Local schools encourage parents to make those payments. Studies show kids are better prepared for first grade and beyond with all-day kindergarten, and kids who need to learn English get a much-needed boost from it.
Most of Eagle County’s kids participate in full-day kindergarten, and parents unable to pay can participate in a scholarship program, “Success at Six,” sponsored by the Vail Valley Foundation. The grant for those scholarships goes away after the 2008-09 school year, though, leaving district officials wondering how to pay for an all-day program for everyone.
Asking voters to fund the program is logical, but we think the timing is wrong.
County voters were hit this year with significant property-tax increases thanks to virtually every local government taking every penny of increase state law allows. In addition, voters just two years ago approved a school district bond issue worth more than $120 million.
Throw in increasing food and fuel prices and the threat of a national recession, and you get a combination that doesn’t bode well for any government asking for more.
Our advice to the school district would be to do everything possible to find a way to fund the Success at Six program for an additional year or two. Get the new schools built on time and on budget. Let the national economy settle out ” which it will ” and see if Gov. Bill Ritter can wrangle some state money for all-day kindergarten out of the Legislature.
The district might be able to get a new tax passed in 2010, if needed. But this year would be a good time to stand pat.