Some question taxpayer cost of Illinois law mandating full day kindergarten

(The Center Square) – Future kindergartners in Illinois will be spending more time in the classroom.

Gov. J.B. Pritzker signed a law requiring school districts to establish a full-day kindergarten program within the next four years. Under the law, every district must also establish a half-day program that is developmentally appropriate and provides opportunities for play-based learning.

Proponents point to research that indicates that children’s early reading skills are enhanced with additional instruction time.

“Getting substantive, consistent full-day kindergarten can be the foundation for our kids looking to build good educational experiences and ultimately steady, well-paying careers,” state Rep. Mary Beth Canty, D-Arlington Heights, said in a statement.

The legislation also establishes the Full Day Kindergarten Task Force, which will conduct a statewide audit to inform the planning and implementation of full-day kindergarten programs.

Alison Maley, Government and Public Relations director with the Illinois Principals Association, said the law could be taxing on some school districts.

“One of the major concerns that we had was there was no funding allotted for this and not only will some districts need additional space, they will need additional teachers,” Maley said.

Bryan Soady, associate executive director of Governmental Relations with the Illinois Association of School Boards, said there have been local referendums on this proposal that have been defeated.

“This is a mandate that we think will require volunteer, elected school boards to force this on taxpayers who have stated they don’t want it,” Soady told The Center Square.

Districts that currently do not offer a full-day program can apply for a waiver to extend the implementation date up to two years past the 2027-2028 school years if they meet certain criteria.

The majority of states require school districts to offer either full- or half-day kindergarten, however less than half actually mandate student attendance. California recently proposed legislation that would require kindergarten enrollment and for days to be longer than four hours, but the bill was vetoed in September 2022 by Gov. Gavin Newsom, who cited cost as a factor.

About The Author

Get News, the way it was meant to be:

Fair. Factual. Trustworthy.

  • This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.