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Idaho House OKs optional full-day kindergarten legislation

UPDATED: Mon., March 21, 2022

By Keith Riddler Associated Press

BOISE – Lawmakers in the Idaho House on Monday approved legislation to boost reading skills among young students with optional full-day kindergarten.

The House voted 40-29 to give school districts the option of full-day kindergarten by using $73 million in state literacy intervention money.

Republican Gov. Brad Little has made boosting reading scores among young students a priority, saying good reading skills make for lifelong learners and give students the best chance for a successful academic career and life.

The legislation removes any ambiguity that the money can be used for all-day kindergarten. Half of the money will be based on enrollment of students in kindergarten to third grade. The other half will be based on students improving their reading skills, with districts with higher-improving students getting more.

“The schools are going to be incentivized,” said Republican Rep. Lance Clow.

Backers say 25% of third-graders don’t read at grade level, and that many of those kids eventually end up having trouble in life, relying on social programs or ending up incarcerated.

Republican Rep. Gary Marshall opposed the bill, citing his concerns that it would open the door to full-day kindergarten, which he said many families oppose.

The measure now goes to the Senate.

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