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Senate gives final OK to kindergarten bill

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A bill that would establish an extended-day kindergarten program statewide received final approval in the Senate Monday.

SB49 would create a voluntary program that would target at-risk children in low-income schools. The measure carries with it a $7.5 million price tag and leaders said the program would affect an estimated 10,000 students.

Lawmakers also adopted intent language that reaffirmed that the state still believes that the job of preparing children for school belongs in the home and the program is voluntary and limited to low-income at-risk students in Title I schools.

According to state education officials, the initiative would be a step toward closing achievement gaps between whites and minorities and low-income students.

Sen. Lyle Hillyard, R-Logan, sponsor of the bill, said in the long run the program could save the state money in special education, resource and remediation costs since educators will be able to ensure children are prepared for school at the outset.