State Watch

Newsom proposes transitional kindergarten for all 4-year-olds in California

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California Gov. Gavin Newsom (D) on Wednesday announced a proposal to expand the state’s transitional kindergarten program.

Newsom rolled out the proposal calls for expanding California’s transitional kindergarten program to include all 4-year-olds by 2024.

The program is currently available to roughly a third of California’s 4-year-olds, according to The Los Angeles Times. 

The expansion is one of a number of education proposals that Newsom unveiled on Wednesday, which will be presented to lawmakers as part of his state budget on Friday. The proposals are part of his $100 billion California Comeback Plan.

The proposals will be funded by the state’s budget surplus.

Newsom announced Monday that California has a more than $75.7 billion budget surplus, the result of a booming stock market and better-than-anticipated tax revenues over the past year, which was marked by the pandemic.

Full implementation of the transitional kindergarten expansion, according to Newsom, will cost $2.7 billion a year. The budget plan will propose a three-year expansion, starting in the 2022 academic year, with each of the three years adding approximately one-third of age-eligible children to the classroom, according to The Times.

As the transitional kindergarten program currently stands, only students who turn 5-years-old between Sept. 2 and Dec. 2 are entitled to the state-sponsored program, according to The Times. Lawmakers, however, have advocated for those regulations to be relaxed or done away with entirely to allow all 4-year-olds to take part in the program. One proposal is pending in the state Assembly.

In addition to an expanded transitional kindergarten, Newsom rolled out plans for added summer and after-school programs in low-income communities, improving student-to-staff ratios, reducing class sizes and expanding subsidized child care slots by 100,000.

Newsom also called for converting thousands of school sites into full-service community schools, where education is combined with health care and mental health services in areas with high poverty rates, according to The Times.

According to Newsom’s office, $15 billion will be put towards targeted investments to “reimagine” California’s K-12 public schools, $2 billion will go towards savings accounts for 3.7 million kids and $3.4 billion will be invested in universal pre-k.

Newsom’s new budget proposals come as the embattled governor is likely to face a recall election, after the state announced last month that the effort aimed at recalling the governor garnered enough signatures to qualify for the ballot.

Updated 10:18 p.m.

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