During the week of May 18th, the Joint Finance Committee is scheduled to discuss several public instruction funding proposals, including 4-year-old Kindergarten grants. This discussion was originally scheduled for May 5th, but was pushed back because of the growing budget deficit (see earlier blog entry). In his proposed budget, Governor Doyle included an additional $1 million each year for 4K grants. These grants were first offered to school districts in 2008-2009. During this year, Wisconsin saw the largest annual increase in enrollment and in the number of participating districts, since data began being collected during the 2001-2002 school year. Approximately 34,000 children participated in 4K programs offered in 319 districts during the 2008-2009 school year. You can read more about 4K grants and the options that the Joint Finance Committee has to consider here.
Almost 90 of the 319 Wisconsin 4K programs use a fairly new concept to provide service. Those programs partner with child care, Head Start, or preschool programs to provide 4K through a community approach. This method has grown immensely as just 3 districts in the 2001-02 school year used a community approach. The Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction administers the grant program and gives preference to districts that intend to use community approaches to provide 4K services (read more here).
The committee is expected to meet this week at the Capitol-although exact dates are not known. They will not be meeting today or tomorrow (Wednesday, May 20th). The meetings will be held in Rm 412 East. Follow the new Wisconsin budget blog for up to the minute happenings at each Joint Finance Committee executive session!