DENVER (KKTV) - This fall the state of Colorado is offering funding to families for full-day kindergarten after Gov. Jared Polis signed HB19-1262 into law on Tuesday.
Funds were set aside by the Joint Budget Committee in March, as the law is also expected to free up more than 5,000 preschool slots. Gov. Polis also signed HB19-1055 into law, providing $25 million to help school districts with kindergarten and preschool implementation costs such as furniture and equipment this year.
“We are so excited that now every child in Colorado will have access to free, full-day kindergarten,” Polis said through a news release Tuesday. “No longer will a family have to choose between paying for kindergarten or making rent. This will save families thousands of dollars each year and open the door for others who could not afford it. This big step forward for Colorado children has been many years in the making. A broad, bipartisan coalition has worked tirelessly to see this vision become reality.”
According to the governor's office, the bill will fully fund full-day kindergarten through the School Finance Act formula. The bill also:
- Frees up resources for school districts that currently subsidize full-day kindergarten to spend on other priorities, including increasing teacher pay, decreasing class size, and purchasing new technologies.
- Provides access to free full-day kindergarten for families, saving Colorado parents up to $500 per month on tuition fees.
- Narrows persistent achievement gaps by helping to provide free full-day kindergarten to every single child — regardless of their zip code.
- Allows school districts that currently use ECARE for full-day kindergarten to retain ECARE slots to use for full or half-day preschool within that district.
- Clarifies that nothing requires a child to attend full-day kindergarten or prohibits a school district from offering half-day kindergarten.
Roughly 20 percent of Colorado kindergartners are not enrolled in a full-day program, according to the Colorado Department of Education.
The full-day kindergarten bill passed the Colorado Senate unanimously and then passed the House with a vote of 55-10.