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All-day kindergarten mandate gone

By John Published: February 1, 2011

The Columbus Dispatch reports today that the state is releasing local districts from the requirement to offer free all-day kindergarten. Many districts were getting waivers to postpone implementing this requirement anyway, but now it's official in an email from the state superintendent to local districts.

Ohio Schools Superintendent Deborah S. Delisle pulled the plug on all-day kindergarten and other elements of former Gov. Ted Strickland's school-funding formula.

With the writing on the wall, Delisle told local school districts in an e-mail today that they do not have to comply with any requirement that costs money, and there essentially is just one: offering tuition-free, all-day kindergarten starting next fall.

I wrote a story in 2008 that Ohio has no uniform policy on all day kindergarten. The big urban districts receive funding to offer all-day kindergarten. Every district must offer at least half-day kindergarten for free.

But in smaller districts with less poverty, it's the luck of the draw whether parents have to pay for more than half-day. Some districts offer all-day at no extra cost. Some charge tuition on a sliding scale. Some only offer half-day.

The Strickland administration tried to enforce a uniform policy, but many districts balked at the increased costs. Districts were granted waivers to ease into the new policy and many applied for them.

It's widely expected that Gov. John Kasich, no fan of Strickland's school funding plan, will seek to eliminate the mandate in his proposed two-year budget due in mid-March.



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