Boise chamber touts pre-K pilot

It’s late in the session — and likely too late to influence the outcome — but the Boise Metro Chamber of Commerce is throwing its support behind a preschool pilot program.

Hy Kloc committee
Rep. Hy Kloc, D-Boise

In a letter Monday to Rep. Hy Kloc, a Boise Democrat pushing the pilot plan, chamber senior vice president Ray Stark says pre-K supporters and opponents can find research to back their point of view. But Stark says the “rather modest” program would help Idaho glean information about the effectiveness of pre-K in Idaho.

Stark also concedes — and perhaps understates — the longstanding resistance to pre-K in the Statehouse.

“Early childhood education programs have been somewhat controversial in the state of Idaho and in the Idaho Legislature,” he wrote.

Kloc’s bill, co-sponsored by Rexburg Republican Rep. Douglas Hancey, would establish five pre-K pilot schools statewide. The schools would receive $600,000 in state money over three years, but 55 percent of their funding would come from private sources.

Kloc introduced his proposal at a Jan. 13 news conference, but the bill has not received a hearing. Kloc says House Education Chairman Reed DeMordaunt has promised the bill will still get a hearing this session. But with lawmakers hoping to adjourn by March 21, it is unlikely the bill would have time to navigate through both houses of the Legislature.

The chamber boasts some 1,800 members representing 80,000 Treasure Valley employees.

Disclosure: Idaho Education News is a Boise Metro Chamber of Commerce member.