Final five: The number of states without pre-K drops, again

 

Boise pre-k
The Boise School District launched a pre-K pilot program in 2015-16 — funded with city tax dollars and private donations. (Photo by Andrew Reed, Idaho Education News.)

For those keeping track — and early education advocates certainly are — Idaho is among an ever-dwindling list of states that do not fund pre-K.

Now, Idaho is among only five states without a pre-K program, according to a recent report from the Denver-based Education Commission of the States.

North Dakota flipped in 2015, putting $3 million of one-time money into a pre-K program for students who would be eligible for federal school lunch subsidies.

In all, states are spending close to $7 billion on pre-K, a 12 percent increase from 2014-15, according to the ECS report.

At this stage of the 2016 session, it would appear unlikely that Idaho will establish a pre-K program. Gov. Butch Otter and state superintendent Sherri Ybarra did not recommend pre-K funding in their respective public schools budget requests. In the past two sessions, pre-K pilot bills have not made it out of the House Education Committee.

The other states without a pre-K program are Montana, New Hampshire, South Dakota and Wyoming.

Three years ago, 11 states did not fund pre-K, according to the ECS report.