Editorial: Don’t ask Eagle Co. for kindergarten funding | VailDaily.com

Editorial: Don’t ask Eagle Co. for kindergarten funding

Scott N. Miller
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.

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