SACRAMENTO, Calif. — California Gov. Gavin Newsom wants the state to pay for all 4-year-olds to attend kindergarten as part of a major new education spending package announced Wednesday.
The plan would cost about $2.7 billion per year when it is fully implemented by the 2024-25 school year.
“We’re going big – targeting $20 billion of investments to transform our public schools, including the creation of universal Pre-K and the establishment of college savings accounts for 3.7 million disadvantaged kids for higher education pursuits or to start their own business,” Newsom’s office wrote in a statement announcing the package.
Under the plan, the state’s two-year transitional kindergarten program would eventually open to all students who have turned 4 by Sept. 1 of a given school year. Attendance will not be required, but school districts will have to offer the classes.
About 91,000 California students are enrolled in transitional kindergarten right now. If Newsom’s plan is approved, that would increase to about 250,000 students by 2024-25, Adam Beam reports for the Associated Press.
The plan includes money for some school districts to hire more staff if needed to accomodate the expanded programs.
State officials had thought California would have a budget shortfall this year because of the pandemic. Instead, Newsom announced Monday that the state will have a $76 billion surplus.