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Gov. Brownback pushes for full-day kindergarten programs in Kansas

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KANSAS CITY, Kan. -- Governor Sam Brownback wants all kids in the Sunflower State to attend full-day kindergarten programs.

It's an $80-million plan that would be phased in over five years.

If approved by lawmakers, Kansas schools would receive $16-million in the next school year to fund full-day kindergarten programs.

At Hazel Grove Elementary School, the Kansas City, Kan. District already provides full-day kindergarten to all of its youngsters.

This district spends an estimated $4-million to $5-million to teach kindergarten to 1,700 children in a full-day program. Educators here believe poor children in particular benefit from all-day sessions, giving them more exposure to language and helping them catch up on skills where they may have a deficiency.

"Kindergarten is a formative year," said David Smith, chief-of-staff for the Kansas City, Kan. School District. "Their brains are young, they are forming. If we can get them in school and teach them well, that really creates a foundation. That's a foundation for their education for life. So it's the right thing to do. Most states already do it and our kids need it so we do it."

The governor said his goal is to boost reading scores among younger children.

The state currently only pays for half-day kindergarten programs. Many states, including Missouri, have had full-day kindergarten classes for several years. Some Kansas districts that provide all-day kindergarten charge parents per semester for the additional cost the state doesn't cover.

Parents told FOX 4 News they believe the state should pay for full-day kindergarten programs. They see growth in the children, and it also eases child care concerns many working moms have in trying to adjust schedules to pick up kids in half-day programs.

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