Colorado Gov. Jared Polis was ringing the school bell and the victory bell Wednesday, reminding his supporters that he made good on his promise to provide free full-day kindergarten as classes resume across the state.
In an email to supporters he said noted that 5,000 more children will be able to gain entry into the educational process because he signed the bipartisan House Bill 1262 in May.
Most of the state's school districts already offered kindergarten, but they subsidized it from elsewhere in their budget. Some didn't offer it, provided it only half-days or charged parents a fee.
The state now bars public schools from charging tuition for full-day kindergarten.
Lawmakers provided about $175 million for the expansion, but a state Department of Education survey this summer found suggested that wouldn't be enough.
Polis' office told the Colorado Sun, which broke the story, that more kids in kindergarten is great news for the state.
Lawmakers trimmed about $40 million from Polis' original request. If the program hits a shortfall, lawmakers will have to figure that out in the state budget or curtail the much-celebrated bipartisan victory from the last session.
"Free full-day kindergarten will have positive ripple effects across Colorado school districts — so if your kids are older, your family will still see the benefits," Polis wrote in Tuesday's email.
"Thanks to new funding for kindergarten, school districts can and are reallocating funding towards overdue necessities like raising teachers’ salaries, expanding extracurricular activities, and implementing technology in classrooms. That means a better education for every child in Colorado, regardless of age."
The governor referenced his own two young children.
"Like kids everywhere, our two children are absolute sponges — it’s a joy to watch them learn about the world around them, pick up new passions, and develop those early, foundational skills like reading and simple math," Polis wrote.
"When they tell me about their days or beat me at Scrabble (it happened!), I see firsthand just how important early childhood education is."