How Idaho’s pre-K bill stacks up

Even if lawmakers follow state Rep. Hy Kloc’s lead and establish a pre-K pilot program, Idaho would still spend far less on early education than 40 other states.

That’s one takeaway from a national think tank’s study on pre-K funding.

The Denver-based Education Commission of the States released its study Monday — the same day Kloc and his allies unveiled a pre-K pilot bill.

Rep. Hy Kloc, D-Boise

Kloc’s bill would establish five pre-K pilots around the state, and the pilots would operate for three years. The pilots would be publicly and privately funded; the state’s share would come to $600,000, or roughly $200,000 a year.

This budget would pale in comparison to other pre-K programs around the country. According to the ECS, 40 states put state money into pre-K in 2013-14. Rhode Island ranks No. 40 in pre-K funding, but the $2.75 million Rhode Island spends on pre-K and Head Start is nearly 14 times as much money as Idaho would spend on Kloc’s pilot program.

Other findings, by the numbers, from the ECS study.

  • $5.6 billion. The total amount of state dollars spent on pre-K nationwide in 2013-14. This represents a $363.6 million increase from 2012-13.
  • Thirty. The number of states that increased pre-K funding in 2013-14. Funding remained flat in seven states, and decreased in three.
  • $400 million. The 2013-14 increases reflect an effort to restore, and build pre-K funding that was cut during the recession. Nationwide, pre-K funding is about $400 million ahead of pre-recession levels.
  • $3 million. The amount the state of Mississippi put into launching its pre-K program, the Early Learning Collaborative Act of 2013. From the report: “This legislation calls upon the state department of education to establish a voluntary pre-K program to be implemented no later than the 2014-15 school year and requires the legislature to appropriate funds on a phased-in basis with a goal of ultimately serving approximately 15,000 children.”

The 10 states that do not fund pre-K are predominately in the West: Arizona, Hawaii, Idaho, Indiana, Montana, New Hampshire, North Dakota, South Dakota, Utah and Wyoming,

But there is a question of how long Hawaii will be on this list. Gov. Neil Abercrombie is pushing for a pre-K pilot program in 32 classrooms, contingent on $4.5 million in state funding.

The Idaho pilot proposal received a skeptical response from two key House Republicans. For more on that, here’s a link to a previous blog post.

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