Governor Brownback pushes for all-day kindergarten

KANSAS CITY, Kan. - The option to have kindergartners in class all day instead of just half may soon be available to everyone if the proposal for state funded all-day kindergarten is passed by Kansas legislators.   

Kindergartners at Piper Elementary have an advantage not everyone in Kansas gets.

"They really do understand the concept it's not just learn it, drill it, test it," Valerie Anaya said, who has taught at the school for more than 30 years.

The students there are in class all day.

Fifteen other districts around the state only get a half day-- that's all the state pays for.

In this case, the Piper district picks up the rest of $1900 per student bill with money from their general fund.

"It's the expectation," Piper USD Superintendent Tim Conrad said. "The discussion now is, can we afford it?"

If lawmakers approve Governor Brownback's proposal, the state will pay for every kindergartner to attend a full day of class.

"I have taught both, both half day and all day," Anaya said.

Anaya wouldn't go back to teaching her kids for three hours instead of six.

"With half day it seemed like you just had to move on because you knew this is the allotted time I have," she said.

 If the proposal passes, districts won't get all the money just yet. Instead, the payments would be broken down into five years.  

The first payment would be $16.3 million, multiplied by that amount, the remaining years for a total of $277 million.

For districts like Piper who pay for full day kindergarten, that extra money will help.

"That's money that we could spend in the class rooms on textbooks and other resources," Conrad said.

Kansas schools have experienced some $400 million in  budget cuts so Anaya will take anything she can get.

"I would love to have more books I'm always saying any extra funding at the school will help," she said.

Governor Brownback said that amount will be paid for with surplus funds, although opponents find it unlikely to pay for without raising taxes. 

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