Given the state’s chronic $16 billion deficit, Senator Sharon Runner introduced legislation to certify that sufficient funds exist prior to initiating a statewide transitional kindergarten program.
“There is no worthier cause than to educate California’s children,” said Sen. Runner. “But given the state’s deep cuts to existing educational programs, now is not the time to start a new program.”
“Children deserve our unwavering support and that’s why it is critical there be adequate funding to start a newly created state program and support its on-going operations.”
Specifically, Senate Bill 634 requires the Department of Finance to certify that sufficient funds must exist to initiate a statewide transitional kindergarten program, and that this program must be able to serve all children without removing funding from other existing state programs and services. In addition, this bill prohibits a school district from initiating a transitional kindergarten program if they receive a “qualified” or “negative” status on the California Department of Education’s Interim Status Reports.
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While Committee Chair Alan Lowenthal (D-Long Beach), and Senator Joe Simitian (D-Palo Alto) commended Runner’s work in education reform, they did not provide the votes to pass SB 634 out of the Senate Education Committee. The measure failed to get even one Democrat vote. Sen. Runner’s request for a reconsideration of the measure was granted unanimously by the committee.
The nonpartisan Legislative Analyst has estimated the state will save $600 – $700 million by changing the age-of-entry date to September 1, which was signed into law last year, with savings going to a new transitional kindergarten program.
“If the state begins a new program without ample funding, it does a disservice to children and parents who will become dependent on these programs,” Runner concluded.