Forum, July 9: Sununu’s Kindergarten Gamble

Saturday, July 08, 2017
Sununu’s Kindergarten Gamble

When legislation to establish full funding for full-day kindergarten was introduced by Democrats earlier this year, we were hopeful that Gov. Chris Sununu would honor his campaign promise to support the bill and ensure that communities struggling to cover the costs of full-day kindergarten would see some much-needed relief.

Democrats have been leading advocates for kindergarten, and for fully funding full-day kindergarten, for many years. Extensive research shows that children who attend kindergarten demonstrate a measured improvement in education outcomes in the short and long term, are more likely to attend and graduate from college and to earn higher incomes. Given these findings, it’s clear that investing in full-day kindergarten is what our priority should be.

Unfortunately, Gov. Sununu failed to deliver on his oft-repeated campaign promise. When our schools reopen in September, there will not be a single new dollar of support for our children attending kindergarten. In the following year, schools will receive only 80 percent of adequacy funds. After that, full payment for kindergarten adequacy will depend entirely upon the state’s Keno revenues.

Passing full funding for full-day kindergarten should have been an easy task. Full funding for full-day kindergarten passed with overwhelming, bipartisan support in both the House and Senate. But in the final hour, Gov. Sununu and Republicans snatched defeat from the jaws of victory by removing full-day kindergarten from the budget, abandoning full funding, and choosing to push a half-measure tied to Keno. Not only did this terminate a path forward for full funding, but it created a system that relies on the poorest communities in our state to shoulder the costs of financing education.

Because communities vote on whether to institute Keno or not, towns that do not institute this form of gaming will see their kindergarten paid for by communities that do. We believe deeply in the necessity of kindergarten access for every child, but we do not believe that access should come at the expense of those who have the least.

Sen. Martha Hennessey

N.H. Senate District 5

Rep. Polly Campion

Grafton County 12

Rep. Patricia Higgins

Grafton County 12

Rep. Mary Jane Mulligan

Grafton County 12

Rep. Sharon Nordgren

Grafton County 12