NAMPA, Idaho — Idaho lawmakers have introduced a bill that would fully fund all-day kindergarten programs in the state.
The state only funds half-day kindergarten programs, the Idaho Press reported Friday. As a result, school districts must pool together money from their general funds and other sources to pay for a full-day kindergarten program.
Some districts, such as Boise and West Ada, charge tuition to parents. The state Department of Education said 88 out of the state’s 115 school districts and 34 of its 67 charter schools offer at least some full-day kindergarten option.
Republican state Sen. Carl Crabtree and Republican state Rep. Judy Boyle introduced a bill on March 11 to fund full-day kindergarten at an annual cost of up to $42.1 million.
A new version was scheduled to be introduced on March 22 but the Legislature was shut down due to a coronavirus outbreak.
The new version, Republican state Rep. Lance Clow said, will use federal coronavirus relief funds to cover new expenses for about two to three years.
If the state approves funding for full-day kindergarten, it could potentially reduce tuition costs, said Char Jackson, the district communications officer for the West Ada School District. That district charges $280 a month tuition for full-day kindergarten. It offers the service at 24 of its 32 elementary schools. The Idaho Press reported that at several schools, a lottery system is needed due to the program’s popularity.
At the Boise School District, 20 out of 32 elementary schools offer full-day kindergarten and tuition for students costs parents up to $250 per month. Dan Hollar, a district spokesperson, said the Boise schools support full state funding.