Assembly Bill 1035/Senate Bill 973 are identical companion bills that require the community approach to four-year-old kindergarten. SB 973 is up for a public hearing in the Senate Committee on Education on Tuesday, February 6 while AB 1035 will have a public hearing in the Assembly Committee on Children and Families on Wednesday, February 7. The WASB has significant concerns about the impact of this legislation on existing school-based 4k programs and the quality of all 4k programs. Below is the bill’s LRB analysis:
Analysis by the Legislative Reference Bureau
Under current law, a school board may, but is not required to, provide four-year-old kindergarten. Current law also requires the Department of Public Instruction to award grants to school boards for the purpose of implementing four-year-old kindergarten. For purposes of the grant program, DPI must give a preference to school districts that use a community approach to early education, as defined by DPI by rule.
Under this bill, if a school provides four-year-old kindergarten, the school board must offer four-year-old kindergarten using a community approach to early education, as defined by DPI by rule, and the school board must contract with each family child care center, group child care center, and head start agency (community-based provider) that holds a license issued by the Department of Children and Families; is in good standing with DCF; and notifies the school board of its intent to offer a four-year-old kindergarten program by no later than February 1 of the preceding school year.
The bill also requires that the contract between a school board and a community-based provider include a minimum net per pupil amount that is not less than 95 percent of the per pupil revenue limit that applies to four-year-old kindergarten pupils in the school district in which the community-based provider is located. Under the bill, the contract must also include a quarterly payment schedule, allocate the responsibility to provide transportation to the community-based provider, and allow the community-based provider to use any curriculum that meets the Wisconsin Model Early Learning Standards. The bill further specifies that the contract between a school board and a community-based provider may not require a staff-to-child ratio that is less than what is required by DCF under the community-based provider’s DCF license and may not require the administration of assessments that are not required under state or federal law.
Finally, the bill exempts teachers who teach four-year-old kindergarten at a community-based provider from the requirement to hold a license issued by DPI. Instead, under the bill, a teacher who teaches four-year-old kindergarten at a community-based provider must have 1) a bachelor’s degree or higher from an accredited institution of higher education or 2) an associate degree in early childhood education and be enrolled at, or intend to enroll at, an accredited institution of higher education for the purpose of obtaining a bachelor’s degree and intend to obtain a bachelor’s degree within four years.
Stay tuned for additional updates/analysis. If you have concerns or information to share on how this proposal would impact your district, please share that with your legislators and WASB Government Relations. Thank you!