A plan to allow schools to charge fees for voluntary pre-k and driver education courses encountered resistance Monday from opponents of early learning programs.
During public testimony on HB 1195, Rep. Roger Hunt, R-Brandon, raised questions about whether schools should be allowed to charge for services that don’t have clearly defined standards. His comments came during time reserved for committee questions.
“We would be authorizing schools to charge for services that, as a legislative body, we do not know what they are going to provide,” Rep. Hunt said. He added that legislators have spent a lot of time outlining public school curriculum, and passing HB 1195 would go against that practice.
ASBSD Executive Director Wade Pogany, who led testimony in support of the plan, responded to Rep. Hunt by stressing that program is voluntary, and that parents have a choice to enroll their children in the program.
To avert what he called a “slippery slope” toward the establishment of pre-kindergarten standards, Rep. Hunt moved an amendment to strike provisions that would allow schools to charge for voluntary pre-k programs. The amendment failed, but garnered support from six lawmakers.
The committee added language, called an emergency clause, to make the bill effective as soon as the governor signs the bill. In order to pass with an emergency clause, the bill needs a two-thirds vote in both the House and Senate.
After changing the bill, lawmakers endorsed the measure on a 9-5 vote.