Kindergarten age bill passes
Posted: Friday, April 27, 2012 8:00 pm
By RICHARD LOCKER
Nashville Bureau Chief
NASHVILLE (AP) — The state Senate gave final legislative approval Thursday night to a bill that would mean most children turning 5 after Aug. 31, 2013, would have to wait a year before entering public kindergarten that year. The cutoff date would move up to Aug. 15 in 2014 and all subsequent years.
Currently, children may enter kindergarten if they turn 5 on or before Sept. 30 of the school year in which they are entering. That date remains in effect for children who will be entering kindergarten in the upcoming 2012-13 school year. Parents may still “hold back” their children for a year if they feel they are not ready for school.
The House approved the bill Wednesday, the Senate followed through on a 21-10 vote Thursday night and it now goes to the governor, who has signaled no opposition to the bill.
House Bill 2566 as amended would move up the eligibility date in two phases: Children entering kindergarten must be 5 years old on or before Aug. 31 for the 2013-14 school year, and on or before Aug. 15 for all subsequent school years.
The bill contains two exceptions:
If the director of schools finds, through evaluation and testing at the request of the parent or guardian, that a child who is 5 on or before Sept. 30 is “sufficiently mature emotionally and academically,” then the child may be permitted to enter kindergarten.
Children who participated in a pre-kindergarten program during the 2012-13 or 2013-14 school years may enter kindergarten in the 2013-14 or 2014-15 school years, respectively.
Sen. Roy Herron, D-Dresden, argued that even though the eligibility window is only being altered by six weeks, parents of children who are affected will face another year of paying for child care and the child will be behind a year.
“For those who are struggling to make ends meet, it’s another year of child care and it’s financial,” Herron said.
Sen. Jack Johnson, R-Franklin, said the bill was sought by kindergarten teachers in his area because many of the youngest children who enter kindergarten aren’t ready for it.
Published in The Messenger 4.28.12