The latest kindergarten admissions related bill advanced out of committee.
House Bill 1174, which changes the kindergarten enrollment eligibility date, passed out of the House Education committee on a 13-1 vote on Wednesday (2/12).
HB 1174 would move the cutoff date for kindergarten enrollment from September 1 to August 1 thus requiring any child enrolling in the earliest grade level in South Dakota schools to be 5-years old by August 1, whereas students previously could begin the school year at 4-years-old as long as they turned 5 by September 1.
“We need to look out for what’s best for the kids,” Rep. Roger Chase, the bill’s prime sponsor told committee members, and was accompanied by multiple kindergarten teachers from South Dakota schools who also testified in support of the bill.
HB 1174 is contrast from another kindergarten admissions related bill the committee passed earlier in the week (2/10), House Bill 1157, which allowed parents of children who turn 5-years-old before December 31 of that current school year to complete a screening and demonstrate “superior academic talents or abilities and social and emotional readiness” to be admitted.
Secretary of Education Ben Jones said HB 1174 would have a “state aid implication” as “about a thousand” potential kindergartners would not be able to be admitted with earlier deadline being set and could have a $4 million impact on state aid to schools.
Rep. Thomas Brunner noted both kindergarten related bills provided options for parents and extra time wasn’t a bad thing for students.
“I think we need more flexibility in the system,” Rep. Brunner said. “I think sometimes holding those kids back can help them.”