Michigan inches toward universal pre-K as leaders support 2-year kindergarten

By Ron French: For More Info, Go Here…

Without news conferences, legislative action or statewide policy changes, Michigan is moving closer to universal, optional preschool for 4-year-olds.

By essentially sanctioning a second year of kindergarten, more than half of 4-year-olds in the state are now in taxpayer-funded preschool or developmental kindergarten, and that number is likely to increase, with bipartisan support in Lansing.

Those two-year programs add a 14th year to students’ traditional 13-year career. School districts are reimbursed for enrollment in developmental kindergarten at the same rate as students in K-12 grades, currently $8,111 per year.

The total cost to the state for two years of kindergarten last school year was $127 million. Michigan is spending an additional $244 million in the 2019-20 budget year on the Great Start Readiness Program, which offers preschool for 4-year-olds from low- and moderate-income families.

Great Start is a long-established program with its own budget approved by the Legislature and the governor each year. As Bridge Magazine previously reported in revealing this trend, two-year kindergarten programs are not funded specifically in the state budget, and there is no law or state policy establishing the programs.

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