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House panel approves full-day kindergarten legislation

Idaho Statehouse
Posted at 10:58 AM, Mar 14, 2022
and last updated 2022-03-14 12:58:34-04

BOISE, Idaho (AP) — Lawmakers on a House panel on Monday approved legislation to boost reading skills among young students with optional full-day kindergarten.

The House Education Committee voted to send to the full House the bill giving school districts the option of full-day kindergarten by using $73 million in literacy intervention money.

Republican Gov. Brad Little has made boosting reading scores among young students a priority, saying good reading skills make for life-long learners and gives students the best chance for a successful academic career and life.

Backers of the bill say about 25% of third-graders aren’t reading at grade level, and full-day kindergarten will help.

“We’re going to change the trajectory of their lives,” said Republican Rep. Ryan Kerby.

Opponents said the Idaho Constitution only requires spending taxpayer money on education starting in first grade. They also cited high gas prices faced by taxpayers and lack of confidence in results of kindergarten.

The legislation removes any ambiguity that the money can be used for all-day kindergarten. Half of the money will be based on enrollment of students in kindergarten to third grade. The other half will be based on students improving their reading skills, with districts with higher-improving students getting more.

The bill passed the Senate 31-2 last week.