Colorado Governor Jared Polis reads to Avon Elementary School kindergarteners
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Colorado Gov. Jared Polis reads a book to Avon Elementary School kindergarteners during his school visit Feb. 1 in Avon, Colo. Polis was touring the school and speaking to board members and education staff on his proposal for state-funded all-day kindergarten.

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A bill that would fund full-day kindergarten in Colorado is headed to the state Senate.

The House voted 53-11 on Tuesday to send the bill on to its next destination. It cleared the House Appropriations Committee on Friday.

HB 1262 has garnered more support during the 2019 session than any previous effort, as Republican Rep. Jim Wilson of Salida can attest. Wilson is the co-prime sponsor of this year’s legislation, which is backed by Gov. Jared Polis. It would provide about $175 million to cover the other half of all-day kindergarten costs currently borne either by school districts or by parents.

Wilson has sponsored bills to provide funding for full-day kindergarten since the 2014 session. None of those bills ever made it past House Appropriations Committee.

The state now funds 58% of a full day of kindergarten. Not all districts offer kindergarten, but the fiscal analysis for HB 1262 notes that about 81% of Colorado kindergartners already attend a partial or full-day kindergarten program.

Some school districts that provide full day use their operating budgets to cover the rest of the cost; others tap into special property tax assessments, known as mill levies, which are approved by voters. In some districts parents pay tuition, as much as $500 per month.

The fiscal analysis estimates the bill will boost participation to 90% by fiscal 2020-21.

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