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All day kindergarten funding is dead. What's next?

By Pilar Pedraza, ppedraza@kwch.com
Published On: Mar 26 2014 06:16:28 PM CDT
Updated On: Mar 26 2014 06:23:45 PM CDT

The governor's plan to pay for all day kindergarten is dead according to Kansas legislative leaders.

"It is difficult. It's very difficult. Because I think our kids are going to lose out in the process," said Doug Powers, superintendent of the Maize schools.

That's because lawmakers are trying to find some $129 million for districts. The money would be used to make funding more equal among schools as required by a recent state supreme court ruling.

But, the ruling designed to help kids could end up hurting them. Most of the places lawmakers are looking for funds are also educational funding sources, starting with all day kindergarten.

"Thanks to the growing economy and the work of this legislature, it is affordable," said Governor Sam Brownback, (R) Kansas, last January in his State of the State address. He was introducing his plan to begin funding all day kindergarten.

Then, in early March, he visited several elementary schools across the state, promoting the proposal that would add $16 million dollars to kindergarten funding every year for the next five years.

"The State of Kansas, for a long time, has wrestled with the issue of whether to go to all day kindergarten. And I'm the third governor to ask for all day kindergarten funding," Brownback said while addressing students, teachers and administrators at Maize's Vermillion Elementary school.

"We were absolutely happy to have him and help spread the message and help support it," said Powers.

Many were hopeful this time all day kindergarten funding would happen.

Then came a Kansas Supreme Court ruling that the state had un-equally funded schools and needed to make up $129 million by July 1st.

"Unfortunately I think all day K was the victim of very poor timing with the legislative calendar this year," said Powers.

That's not all lawmakers are looking at. Other proposals would cut funding for transportation, online schools and intervention programs to help failing students.

"Programs that we know are good are right now subject to that legislative agenda because of that court order," said Powers.

Which programs will be cut remains to be seen. But Powers doesn't think we'll see it before lawmakers begin their three week break at the end of next week.

"I think there'll be bills probably introduced," said Powers. "Whether those bills will be to the point where they'll be finalized, prepared to send on to the governor, I would doubt that."

Eyewitness News called the governor's office to find out what he thought about the end of his all day kindergarten proposal. The office told us he still supports the idea but doesn't comment on where the legislature can look for the funding it needs to comply with the state supreme court's ruling.

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