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Gallo Submits Bill that would Fully Fund All-Day K

The legislation would fully fund all-day kindergarten for the 13 school districts in Rhode Island without full-day K beginning in the fall of 2015.

Rhode Island State Sen. Hannah M. Gallo, also the chairwoman of the Senate Committee on Education, introduced legislation today that would fully fund all-day kindergarten in Rhode Island for school districts still struggling to transition from half-day programs.

The legislation would fully fund all-day kindergarten for the 13 school districts in Rhode Island without full-day K beginning in the fall of 2015.

“Statistics show that early childhood education helps better prepare students for the academic challenges they will face in elementary school,” Gallo said. “When children are better prepared from the start, it allows for accelerated learning and more time for teachers to provide meaningful learning opportunities. Full-day kindergarten is essential to smooth the transition into first grade and to developing solid cognitive, physical and social skills in the classroom.”

The bill would rectify a problem that has arisen since the passage of a 2012 law that was supposed to help districts transition to full-day K programs.

Currently, school districts that had implemented full-day kindergarten before 2012 receive full funding under the education aid formula. Districts making the transition after 2012 have been funded under the proportional transition plan formula.

But that formula used a phase-in approach to funding, giving districts 25 percent of the per-student cost every year over four years. 

“Although the goal of the 2012 legislation was to encourage districts to begin offering full-day kindergarten, the transition plan funding scheme is a disincentive and barrier to some school districts to adopt full-day kindergarten,” Gallo said.

Case in point: Cranston, which had to decline $200,000 because the district simply couldn't afford to offer full-day K with the funding trickling in under the formula. School officials derided the plan as an unfair request on the district because it had to float a large part of the cost at the beginning of the arrangement. Because it couldn't, it had to drop it altogether.

With this bill, it will be much easier for the 13 schools still without full day-K to offer it.

“This legislation, if enacted, will eliminate those financial barriers and ensure that all school districts have the opportunity, and fiscal wherewithal, to offer this important early learning experience for all children in the state,” said Senator Gallo.

The legislation will also require the Commissioner of Elementary and Secondary Education to rank applications for one-time start-up costs for those districts that are operating half-day programs and that are changing to full-day programs. Those districts will then be fully funded in rank order.

The bill requires that priority be given to districts with enrollment of greater than 8,000 students and, if there are none of those, then to districts with enrollment greater than 4,000 students.

 “In essence,” said Senator Gallo, “we want the greatest number of students to benefit from this money, especially in the budgetary climate we operate in today. We want to provide our largest school districts that may have greater start-up costs with the ability to do the necessary and often expensive upgrades for full-day programs that might otherwise be cost-prohibitive.”

The Gallo bill has been referred to the Senate Committee on Finance. Co-sponsors include Sen. Michael J. McCaffrey (D-Dist. 29, Warwick), Sen. Walter S. Felag Jr. (D-Dist. 10, Warren, Bristol, Tiverton), Sen. Joshua Miller (D-Dist. 28, Cranston, Providence) and Sen. Erin P. Lynch (D-Dist. 31, Warwick, Cranston.

George Costanza March 14, 2014 at 11:45 AM
John, you are right. Where is the State going to get money to pay for this???? Due to Obamacare (a plan i supported), the State will have to begin paying 10% of Medicaid costs. Medicaid rolls have expanded 30%, the cost for the state in 2015 will be $30 mil, by 2020 it will be $70 mil. In addition to Medicaid you have increased pension costs. Pension costs even with the "settlement" will increase 20% annually through 2020. I don't see where the money is
Joe Smith March 14, 2014 at 03:30 PM
Quick - Which districts don't have full day K..just look at the sponsors.. Providence, North Prov, East Prov, Pawtucket, Central Falls -- 100% Cranston, Warwick, Woonsocket (which is already 80% state funded) -- all 0 to 10%.. So, let's take from the rest of the state, especially Washington County, and give it to the other cities..and if there is money left over, well what are the other districts.. oh, Barrington, East Greenwich, North Kingstown, Portsmouth -- schools that seem to do okay on educational tests even without full day K.. oh , no on that last part because we will only include "districts with enrollment greater than 4,000 students." So, yeah, Barrington, EG -- pay more to fund other districts.. And we get to add more union jobs and more people paying into the pension system (and of course more people adding to the liabilities but let's not talk about that)... PS - Look at the statistics of full day versus 1/2 day K -- it is not an issue of money..it's about how/what you teach and if your curriculum and teachers are weak, there are no long term gains.. http://www.rikidscount.org/matriarch/documents/13_Factbook_Indicator_53.pdf
Miguel March 17, 2014 at 10:56 AM
Providence already has Full-Day K so your wrong with your bigegst example.
Joe Smith March 17, 2014 at 02:29 PM
I stated that.. Providence, North Prov, East Prov, Pawtucket, Central Falls -- 100% (meaning 100% full day K -- sorry for any confusion).. so that leaves the > 4,000 crowd of Cranston, Warwick, Woonsocket (which doesn't matter since the state pays 80% of their tab anyway) --- so no surprise these are Cranston and Warwick reps trying to squeeze other parts of the state to pay their bills..
Miguel March 17, 2014 at 03:26 PM
This is surprising to you? Generally in any form of Democracy (I use that term loosley) elected representatives try to ensure their districts get as good of the pie as they can. Would you expect Reed or Whitehouse to lobby for Delaware over Rhode Island? Don't you think Pres. Obama would seek economic treaties that would benefit the US over Brazil? So I'm not sure why you expect a RI representative from another city/town to put Cranston's interests forward in the General Assembly.

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