Sununu prioritizes full-day kindergarten in budget; Senators still vie for full adequacy funding

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In Governor Chris Sununu’s budget address on Thursday, full-day kindergarten funding was front and center. Senator Watters (Dover) believes his bill, SB 191, would address the Governor’s campaign promises, reported Seacoast Online

Sununu said he’s “proud to be the first governor to deliver real full-day kindergarten.” His proposed budget includes $9 million per year over the next two years for funding full-day programs. The program would be based on need, but he said everyone will get something:

“State aid would be allocated among communities based on a measure of relative need, with factors including: a community’s relative property wealth to that in relative to the rest of the state; participation rates for free and reduced lunch programs compared to statewide averages; and communities with high percentages of English language learner students.”

There are slightly over 11,000 kindergartners in New Hampshire, and about 80% of them attend full-day programs. Schools get half of the adequacy amount–roughly $1,800 of the $3,600 grant–per kindergartner. SB 191 would change that by funding full-day programs at 100%, which would increase the state’s education budget by about $14.5 million (this estimate is conservative–it doesn’t include the cost of programs that converted to full-day in the 2016-2017 school year and beyond). Governor Sununu’s proposal doesn’t quite cover the entire bill, but would deliver much-needed aid to many districts.

One of the issues important to Governor Sununu during his campaign was full-day kindergarten. Senator Watters says he thinks Senate bill hits that target:

“I think it is the bill that best reflects what the governor wants in all-day kindergarten and the process we will go through for that,” Watters told the Dover City Council on Feb. 1.

Kindergarten is still an important issue to the Governor, and he addressed it in his speech:

“I’ve heard from many young parents that this is a priority of theirs – in both considering the quality of a community’s public education and in their decision-making process when choosing a place to raise their children.”

Read the full article here.