2012 Legislative Session
As of March 23, 2012: After much discussion and deliberation that involved the Kids Are Priority One Coalition, the Senate Education Committee voted to support S.218. Click here to read the bill. The first section of the bill directs Building Bright Futures, "in consultation with appropriate community partners and stakeholder groups," to develop recommendations to increase statewide access to high-quality early education for three and four year olds. The Building Bright Futures Council must present its recommendations to the Senate and House Education Committees by January 15, 2013. This would be an exciting opportunity to think broadly and creatively about ways to make high- quality early childhood experiences available to more preschool-aged children.
During the 2011 legislative session, the Kids Are Priority One Coalition worked with Pre-K Vermont/Vermont Business Roundtable to pass S.53, which removes the cap on Act 62. The cap had limited the number of three and four year olds whom a school can count in its student count, thus restricting children’s access to high-quality early education. Assuming school boards can garner sufficient public support to increase funding for early education and other conditions are met, school boards are now able to expand access to high-quality early education for preschool-aged children in their school district. For more information on the Coalition’s position on this issue, click here.
Act 62 Overview
In June 2007, after a four-year campaign spearheaded by the Kids Are Priority One Coalition and the Child Care Fund of Vermont, Act 62 was enacted with bipartisan support in the legislature. This law solidifies the practice of using public education funds to support high-quality early education. School districts can contract with community-based early education programs, or they can establish on-site pre-k programs. Before starting an on-site program, school districts must undertake a community needs assessment.
Act 62 directed the Vermont Department of Education and the Vermont Department for Children and Families to propose rules for consideration by the State Board of Education. The State Board of Education formally initiated the rule-making process in November 2007 and approved final rules at its May meeting.
To learn more about what Act 62 means for parents, early childhood programs and school districts, go to http://www.dcf.state.vt.us/cdd/programs/partnerships/index.html
For additional resources regarding Act 62, go to the State Department of Education's website: http://education.vermont.gov/new/html/pgm_earlyed/prekindergarten.html
Governor Shumlin signs the Pre-K bill passed in the 2011 legislative session
When legislation as sweeping as Act 62 is enacted, there inevitably are growing pains associated with its implementation. This is especially true when two different systemsthe public education system and the early care and education system (both its private and public components)intersect in new ways as they do with Act 62. Ironing out issues as they arise becomes more difficult when state agencies responsible for implementation are short-staffed.
The Kids Are Priority One staff has prepared a summary of challenges (click here to view) posed by implementation of Act 62 which have been brought to our attention by Building Bright Futures Regional Councils, school district staff, individual early childhood programs, child care resource and referral agencies, and parents. The memo also offers possible solutions. The Kids Are Priority One staff, PreK Vermont and other Coalition partners are part of an advisory group that is working with the Commissioners from the Department for Children and and Families and the Department of Education, as well as their staff, to resolve the issues that have arisen.