Idaho House Committee Finally Agrees to Set Public Hearing on Pre-K Pilot Bill 

"Roughly 40 percent of children in Kindergarten read at or above grade level, But through no fault of their own, children aren't getting the help they need."

There has been much conversation surrounding a proposed Pre-K pilot program for the Gem State this legislative season. But much of that dialogue has occurred outside of the Statehouse.

That is, until this morning.

Boise Democratic Rep. Hy Kloc finally got a formal opportunity this morning to unveil his Kindergarten Preparedness program, which will introduce a limited Pre-K program in five select Idaho schools.

"Roughly 40 percent of children in Kindergarten read at or above grade level," Kloc told the Idaho House Education Committee. "But through no fault of their own, children aren't getting the help they need."

Kloc's pilot pre-K program would see approximately $600,000 in state money sent to five schools over three years, with more funding coming in from private grants.

"Two-thirds of Idaho children who come from high-income families attend preschool," said Kloc.

Twin Falls Republican Rep. Lance Clow asked Kloc what he considered to be "high income," and the Boise Democrat that he thought it was around $100,000.

"My daughters' families are nowhere near that high-income figure and they send their children to preschool on their own nickel," said Clow. "I think this focuses on a very narrow group of students."

Committee Chairman Rep. Reed DeMourdaunt told Kloc that he wasn't a particular fan of the pilot.

"I feel the information is out there already," said DeMourdaunt. "This is an expensive program."

But Idaho Falls Republican Rep. Linden Bateman, who said the effort deserved a hearing, argued, "These are fiercely formative years. Let this bill circulate."

Ultimately, some of the Republicans on the committee voted against letting the routing slip turn into a bill, which triggers a hearing, but DeMourdaunt said the majority of the committee wanted to see a full public hearing on the matter.

But with a number of legislative leaders looking at bringing the session to a close within the next three weeks, the chance of the pre-K bill making its way through both the full Idaho House and Senate was anybody's guess.

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