Board opposes full-day kindergarten bill

Ashland's School Board expressed outrage this week over a Senate bill that would require districts to provide full-day kindergarten because the bill makes no mention of providing extra money to do it.

"I just think it's wrong because it comes across as an unfunded mandate," board member Keith Massie said during Monday's meeting. "I'm not sure that one school board is going to have a major impact, but I'd like to take a stand that says we don't support the Legislature mandating things like this."

Senators who passed Bill 248 in March intend to find funding for full-day kindergarten before the requirement would go into effect in 2015, said Sen. Alan Bates, D-Medford, who voted for the bill. "We think there'll be plenty available for it in 2015, and if there isn't, we'll probably have to rescind it," he said. "We're aiming for 2015 and aiming to fund it for 2015; we just can't set the budget that far ahead."

The bill is sitting in the House of Representatives Rules Committee now and may die there, Bates said. "My guess is it's got less than a 50-50 chance of being voted on, but we got everybody's attention at least," he said. "We need to move in that direction."

Bates said students who attend for a full day are more likely to do well academically and graduate from high school.

Ashland board members said they don't dispute that full-day kindergarten is important, but it's not fair to make already cash-strapped school districts pay for the program themselves. Massie is writing a response to the bill this month. In June, the board will vote on whether to send the letter to legislators. "I would like to send a message that we don't support this," Massie said.

Contact reporter Hannah Guzik at 541-708-1158 or

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