BOISE, Idaho — The fate of free, full-day kindergarten in Idaho is still unknown as House lawmakers postponed debating several pieces of education-related legislation Monday morning.
Senate Bill 1373 has sat on the House reading calendar for almost a week. If passed, the legislation would nearly triple the state funding for K-12 literacy intervention programs from $26.1 million to $72.7 million.
In previous committee hearings, legislative sponsor Republican Rep. Ryan Kirby from New Plymouth said that the bill's $46.6 million price tag would be enough for every Idaho school to offer free, full-day kindergarten.
However, Kirby said schools could use the funding for other literacy-related programs.
Idaho already provides funding for half-day kindergarten classes. The state does not require children to attend kindergarten.
Monday's postponement marks the third time House lawmakers have delayed debating the bill.
On Friday, the House Ways and Means Committee introduced another piece of literacy-related legislation – House Bill 790. The bill, which Kerby is also sponsoring, would implement the same literacy funding formula proposed in SB 1373. The legislation would additionally require school districts to disclose how they spend property tax revenue collected through supplemental levies.
The window to pass legislation is quickly closing, as several lawmakers have mentioned a goal of closing out the session by the end of the month.
On Monday, House lawmakers also delayed debate on two other education-related bills:
- Senate Bill 1390: would set the State Board of Education's annual budget at approximately $58.9 million
- House Bill 778: would allocate nearly $1 million in federal COVID-19 relief money toward educational support programs
The bills are expected to receive a full hearing on the House floor later this week.