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California to extend kindergarten for all 4-year-olds

SALINAS, Calif. (KION) Jovita Olage is a grandmother of a four-year-old who is about to start preschool. She said the proposal would make it easier for families whose income requires them to pay for early education.

“We shouldn't have to pay because it is early education,” said Olage. “When they get to higher education like high school then, that's when I think parents should pay.”

California issued a new $262.6 billion operating budget that sets aside $2.6 billion so that all four-year-olds can enroll in kindergarten free of cost, regardless of their month of birth. This proposal could make a world of difference for over 90 thousand four-year-olds who are currently attending TK, or "transitional kindergarten."

Olage said free TK would allow families to begin saving in order to pay for college in order to alleviate future financial stress, 

However, North Monterey County School District Superintendent Kari Yeater said that more funding will be needed to make school environments accommodating for younger children.

“If you look at the playgrounds, the bathrooms, the classrooms, everything has to be set up for four-year-olds,” Yeater said. 

Space is also a concern with the potential overcrowding in elementary schools. One other big struggle is a teacher shortage. Bringing more kids requires more educators. Nonetheless, the proposal has received plenty of positive feedback.

“We're ready to take on this next challenge and we are excited to welcome four-year-olds to our schools,” Yeater said.

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Courtney Aitken

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