School funding commission co-chairs introduce 4K funding bill

The co-chairs of the Blue Ribbon Commission on School Funding, Rep. Joel Kitchens (R-Sturgeon Bay) and Sen. Luther Olsen (R-Ripon), have introduced legislation that would count full-day 4K students as 1.0 pupil for funding purposes (see more info below). This is based on a recommendation from the commission and is supported by the WASB.

We encourage you to contact your state legislators to urge support of companion bills Senate Bill 408 and Assembly Bill 465. Neither bill has been scheduled for a public hearing yet in the respective education committees. We will keep you up to date here and if this would be a benefit to your district, please consider coming to testify at a hearing.

From the co-sponsorship memo from Sen. Olsen & Rep. Kitchens:

“During the Blue Ribbon Commission on School Funding, the Committee heard
testimony regarding the benefits of early childhood education. Early childhood education has been shown to be extremely beneficial for children between the ages of 3-5. Some of these benefits include improved social skills, better academic success later on in life, an improved attention span, as well as an enthusiasm for learning.

“Under current law, districts may choose to operate a four-year-old kindergarten (4K)
program if they would like to, but they are not required to do so. For those that do opt to offer a 4K program they are included in the equalization aid and revenue limit counts as a 0.5 pupil as long as the child attends for at least 437 hours.

“This bill changes current law to allow 4K programs that require full day attendance by
pupils for five days a week to be able to count these pupils as a whole one pupil rather
than a half.”

Analysis by the Legislative Reference Bureau

This bill changes how a pupil enrolled in a four-year-old kindergarten is counted
by a school district for purposes of state aid and revenue limits. Under current law, a
pupil enrolled in a four-year-old kindergarten program is counted as 0.5 pupil unless the program provides at least 87.5 additional hours of outreach activities, in which case the pupil is counted as 0.6 pupil. Under the bill, if the four-year-old kindergarten program requires full-day attendance by pupils for five days a week, a pupil enrolled in the program is counted as one pupil.

This change would first apply to the distribution of school aid in, and the calculation
of revenue limits for, the 2020-21 school year.