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Full-day kindergarten bill helps most Denver-area districts, but challenges the richest and poorest

Posted at 11:18 AM, Jul 01, 2019
and last updated 2019-07-01 13:18:43-04

One of the Denver area’s richest school districts and one of its poorest will both take a financial hit as Colorado implements full-day kindergarten funding — but both say they can manage it.

This year, the General Assembly passed a bill funding kindergarten students at the full per-pupil rate used for older children. Previously, the state paid only 58 percent of the normal rate, and most districts used some combination of three options: offering only half-day kindergarten; charging parents tuition if they wanted to send their children for the full day; or using other funds to make up the difference.

The new law won’t require Colorado’s public schools to offer full-day kindergarten, but it does forbid them from charging tuition. Parents also aren’t obligated to send their children to a full-day program, though some districts are doing away with their half-day classes.

In the Douglas County School District, the state per-pupil rate will provide about $3.9 million, which is $600,000 less than the district’s neighborhood schools collected in tuition, spokeswoman Paula Hans said. Previously, families paid a maximum of $350 per month if they wanted to send their children to full-day programs in most schools, though charter schools could set different tuition scales.

District financial staff members found enough unused funds to make up the difference this coming school year, but it’s not clear what they will do next year.

Read the full story in The Denver Post.