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Governor, Lawmakers, Superintendents Support Early Childhood Education
Governor Jared Polis, Superintendent Pam Swanson and a group of other Adams County leaders threw their full support behind a plan to fund full-day kindergarten in public schools and expand preschool opportunities. The group spoke with Adams County voters on Saturday, Jan. 26 at a meeting sponsored by newly elected State Representative Shannon Bird.
Polis, elected to office in November, said the money to support full-day kindergarten already exists because of an expanding economy and higher property values. "This year’s budget will put a record amount of money into education," he told the audience.
During the campaign, Polis committed to funding full-day kindergarten for all Colorado children and routinely praised Westminster Public Schools for its innovative private/public partnership that provides free full-day preschool to some children as part of a pilot program to measure the value of full-day preschool.
Under the current state formula, districts like Westminster Public Schools (WPS), that already provide full-day kindergarten are funded at only .58 percent of the current per-pupil rate. If full funding of kindergarten is approved by the legislature, WPS would receive an additional $1.3 million to the general fund. Polis suggested a part of that money could be used to make more preschool slots available.
In her remarks, Superintendent Swanson thanked the Governor for, "putting education and education funding on the front burner." Swanson said WPS hopes to be one of the first districts in Colorado to provide full-day preschool to all its students.
Swanson said the district is also committed to improving teacher pay. She added that WPS has one of the highest starting salaries in the metro area and hopes to continue that distinction when contract negotiations began next week with the Westminster Education Association.
In addition to praising Polis for prioritizing education, she also thanked the community for supporting the mill levy override in last November’s election.
Also speaking at the morning meeting were State Senator Dominic Moreno who sits on the powerful Joint Budget Committee, State Senator Faith Winters, Representative Bird and Adams 12 Superintendent Chris Gdowski.