New bill proposes full-day 4K in Wisconsin

Published: Oct. 3, 2019 at 12:33 PM CDT
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Full day four-year-old kindergarten in Wisconsin could become a reality.

A bill proposed at the state capitol would change how students enrolled in 4K are counted by a school district for purposes of state aid and revenue limits.

Currently, state law counts a 4K student as a 0.5 pupil, unless the program provides at least 87.5 additional hours of outreach materials.Under the bill, if a program requires full-day attendance for five days a week, a student in the program is counted as a full pupil.

Another bill would also change the age in which a child could attend 4K. Currently children can attend if the child is a four-year-old on Sept. 1 of the year they would enter school. The bill would allow children to enter 4K if they are of age on Sept 1 or will be four-years-old on Dec. 31 in the school year they would enter school.

Children could also enter a 4K program mid-year for their first quarter or semester, if they turn four before June 30 of that year, according to the bill.

A hearing on both proposed bills is being held by the Senate and Assembly education committees on Thursday.

In January, during his state-of-state address, Governor Tony Evers proposed expanding 4K programs to full-day. He also proposed spending $5 million on a new grant program to add three-year-old kindergarten in the state's five largest school districts. He wanted both to happen by 2021.

According to the Wisconsin Department of Administration's Division of Executive Budget and Finance, of the 411 school districts in the state that provide elementary school, only five districts do not offer a 4K program. The local fiscal impact of the bills "could have the effect of incentivizing school districts to expand their existing 4K programs.

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