California bill aims to raise age for Kindergarten

FRESNO, California The change is designed to save the state hundreds of millions of dollars. Many parents are split on the plan.

Although he's only 7-months-old, young Ethan's parents Stan and Amy are not sure if he's four, or possibly five years away from starting Kindergarten.

Stan Deaver said, "He was born October 6, so he would fall into that category."

A bill being proposed by Palo Alto Senator Joe Simitian would require kids to be five years old by September 1st to start Kindergarten instead of the current cutoff date of December 2nd. Ethan's parents are split on the issue.

Amy Deaver said, "I was held back two years in preschool. I think it helped me school wise."

"I'm glad I wasn't held back. It just depends on the child," said Stan Deaver.

Central Unified Teacher Bernice Bailey is in favor of the change saying Kindergarten classes focus mostly on academics and it's difficult for some students who start school at four years old.

"The standards for Kindergarten we're really pushing kids we want them reading and writing for some four year olds it's a bit much," said Bailey.

The new age requirement would be phased in over the next three years and could save the state nearly $700 million a year, but the state's savings could come at a high price for parents.

Maria Schultz thinks moving the cutoff date will add an extra year of childcare and preschool costs for struggling parents.

"Say a mother has to work ... now she has to have either day care or more funding from the government," said Schultz.

Under Simitian's proposal, some state money would go toward preschool programs. And parents of children who do not meet the cutoff age can request exceptions from their local school district.

The bill is up for a vote in the Senate Appropriations Committee on May 27th. If it passes, then goes to the legislature for a vote.

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