(The Center Square) – A measure that implements full-day kindergarten throughout Illinois is about to be sent to Gov. J.B. Pritzker for his signature.
State Rep. Mary Beth Canty, D-Arlington Heights, filed House Bill 2396. It passed the House in March. After several amendments in the Illinois Senate last week, the House voted to concur Friday.
State Sen. Kimberly Lightford, D-Maywood, said the bill better prepares the state’s youth for the future.
“Full-day kindergarten has shown to boost academic gains and prepare children for the social and emotional demands of early elementary,” Lightford said. “This can provide students and their families with sufficient support and opportunities in their early education career.”
During Senate committees, state Sen. Dan McConchie, R-Hawthorn Woods, asked about the potential costs on lower-income school districts.
“For them, it’s just an issue of having space,” McConchie said. “They are going to have to build eight classrooms to be able to do this. That is not something they will be able to do in short order. Plus, it will be a million dollars a year to fund this, and they want to make sure they are doing it in a responsible manner.”
The measure phases the policy in over two years so schools can garner funding for the change, which is more than half the state’s schools, according to state Rep. Patrick Windhorst, R-Harrisburg.
“If the data I have is correct, 478 out of the 851 school districts will qualify for the two-year extension,” Windhorst said.
Windhorst told the General Assembly that the legislation had received bipartisan support in the Senate.
“This had a Senate vote of 52-1 if that is correct,” Windhorst asked Canty.
“It also passed out of this chamber with an overwhelming majority,” Canty said.
The amendments were concurred by the House with a vote of 85-24. The bill now awaits to be sent to Pritzker for his signature before becoming law.