Kansas Governor Sam Brownback is currently on a tour of kindergarten facilities across the state. Tuesday afternoon he made his way to Vermillion Elementary in Maize.
Before speaking before a crowd at the school, Brownback visited with kindergarteners during their lessons. The stopover in Maize is part of his campaign to provide state funding for all-day kindergarten throughout Kansas. The cost of the plan is estimated to be an additional $16 million a year for the next five years.
Opponents of the plan have said that’s too much, but Brownback says that recent economic trends in the state will help cover the costs.
“We ended last fiscal year with over $700 million cash on hand, and we just ended February with very good receipts to the state of Kansas,” he said. “So we’re in a fiscal position now, having really taken a number of tough steps, to where we can now invest more in our schools.”
As of now, the state of Kansas only funds half-days for kindergarten, and parents have the option to pay out-of-pocket for the full-day. June Rempel is associate principal for the Maize Early Childhood Center, she says that these out-of-pocket expenses can become a financial burden for some.
"There are some parents that really struggle with it,” she explains. "We do offer it for free if a parent qualifies for free-reduced under our state system, then we waive those fees – which I think is helpful to families. There’s a few that get caught in the middle though, where it’s a strain but they don’t qualify for it for free.”
The proposal is currently under review by state legislative committees. The lawmakers are looking at the benefits of additional funding and the effects of all-day kindergarten on students.