Gov. Polis signs free, full-day kindergarten bill into law
DENVER — Gov. Jared Polis today signed HB19-1262, State Funding for Full-day Kindergarten into law, marking one of the largest investments in early childhood education in Colorado’s history. Funds set aside by the Joint Budget Committee in March will fund full-day kindergarten in addition to freeing up more than 5,000 preschool slots. In addition, Governor Polis signed HB19-1055, which provides $25 million to help school districts with kindergarten and preschool implementation costs such as furniture and equipment this year. With today’s signing, districts across the state are empowered to start offering free full-day kindergarten this fall.
“We are so excited that now every child in Colorado will have access to free, full-day kindergarten,” said Governor Jared Polis. “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.”
The Governor was joined by Representative Jim Wilson and Senators Jeff Bridges, Dominic Moreno, Rhonda Fields, and a number of other legislators for the signing at Stedman Elementary School in Denver.
This 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.