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Save Transitional Kindergarten from Budget Cuts

(Download this fact sheet as a PDF.)

Transitional Kindergarten

Senate Bill 1381 (Simitian, Chapter 705, Statutes of 2010) changed the kindergarten entry-age in California from five years old by December 2nd to five years old by September 1st.  The new age requirement will be phased-in over three years beginning in the 2012-13 school year.  Those “young fives” (children turning five from September 2 – December 2) whose kindergarten is delayed by the new cut-off date, will be served in a transitional kindergarten program, at no additional cost to the state, using a curriculum that is age and developmentally appropriate.

The Governor’s 2012-13 Proposed Budget calls for the elimination of funding for transitional kindergarten in order to save $223 million for the state.  Below are some of the potential negative impacts of changing the kindergarten cut-off date without providing transitional kindergarten:

  1. Approximately 125,000 children (born between Sep. 2nd – Dec. 2nd) would be displaced from the K-12 school system;
    • 60 percent of these students attend Title 1 schools and 40 percent are English Learners
    • this would be the largest displacement of children from public schools in our nation’s history

  2. Permanent reduction to Proposition 98 guarantee

    • since ADA is a multiplier in the Prop 98 formula, displacing 125,000 children from kindergarten, and subsequent grade levels for the following 12 years, would result in a lower guarantee in the future when the leading small cohort(s) have graduated and statewide ADA returns to what it otherwise would have been

  3. Loss of funding for special education (approx. $100 million)

    • districts are responsible for providing special education services to children once they turn 3 years old, however, these children don’t generate funding for schools until they enroll in kindergarten
    • districts would lose $75.6 million in AB 602 special education funding (assume $600 per student as the statewide average)
    • districts would also lose $30.4 million in revenue limit funding that supports affected special education students born in the fall (assume $5,000 per student as the deficited statewide average revenue limit for a unified school district)

  4. Budget cuts to local school districts (displacing the fall cohort would save money for the State, but not necessarily for districts);

    • losing ¼ of the funding for the kindergarten cohort doesn’t translate directly into savings for school districts; depending on the size of the district and distribution of the local population, “savings” or at least cost avoidance would vary significantly
    • smaller school districts would lose ADA funding, but may not be able to eliminate classes or lay-off teachers
    • losing enrollment on the margins results in 100 percent loss of the associated ADA funding, but fixed costs remain

  5. More teacher lay-offs in a bad economy and in the midst of billions in cuts to K-12 education;

    • 4,500 teacher jobs would be eliminated (assuming all districts could eliminate classes with 25-30 students per class), these teacher lay-offs would be repeated annually at each subsequent grade level for 13 years

  6. Negative financial impact on families that would be required to pay for an additional year of childcare/preschool or loss of income from a care-giver out of the work force for an additional year;

    • this would be an especially hard impact on working families that cannot afford preschool (State preschool program isn’t an option since there are currently 83,000 children on the wait-list)
    • the lack of access to preschool is further compounded by the fact that the Governor’s proposed budget calls for the elimination of 71,000 child care slots
    • $6,000 (part-day) to $15,000 (full-day) average cost of a year of preschool (depending on location and the quality of the program)

How to Help

You can read more about transitional kindergarten and find ways to get involved on the website of Preschool California