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.

Kevin Richert

Kevin Richert

Senior reporter and blogger Kevin Richert specializes in education politics and education policy. He has more than 30 years of experience in Idaho journalism. He is a frequent guest on "Idaho Reports" on Idaho Public Television and "Idaho Matters" on Boise State Public Radio. Follow Kevin on Twitter: @KevinRichert. He can be reached at [email protected]

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