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TJ Jerke, Forum News Service, Published February 20 2013

North Dakota Senate panel urges ‘do not pass’ for pre-K funding

BISMARCK – A day after lawmakers and the Department of Public Instruction showed how successful early childhood education is, a Senate committee said “do not pass” to a bill that would provide funding to develop pre-kindergarten programs across the state.

The Senate Appropriations Committee voted 7-6 against Senate Bill 2229, which would appropriate $4.6 million to the Department of Public Instruction to create $100,000 grants to distribute to schools meeting certain criteria.

“Just one day after the Superintendent of Public Instruction Kirsten Baesler rightly touted the success of early childhood education, Senate appropriators zeroed out funding for pre-K,” the bill’s co-sponsor, Sen. Phil Murphy, D-Portland, said in a news release. “That is unexplainable. The evidence is clear – if we want North Dakota kids to have the best shot at succeeding in school and in life, we’ve got to start early.”

The full Senate can ignore the committee’s recommendation and vote in favor of the bill, something Murphy said he will try to do when the bill gets to the floor.

Clerk’s notes show some of the committee’s discussion revolved around when a parent takes responsibility for their child’s education. Others said early childhood years are critical for the child and family, and children should not be at school.

“There is a time in a child’s life the bonding with the family is more critical,” Sen. Ralph Kilzer said, according to committee clerk notes.

The bill was sent to the Appropriations Committee from the Senate Education Committee, which recommended a do-pass motion by a unanimous vote.

The House passed a similar bill, House Bill 1429, but stripped it of its requested appropriation to fund pre-K programs. The bill still allows local authorities to use local tax revenues not used to support K-12 education for early childhood development programs.

Recommending a do-not- pass vote: Sens. Bill Bowman, R-Bowman; Ralph Kilzer, R-Bismarck; Karen Krebsbach, R-Minot; Robert Erbele, R-Lehr; Terry Wanzek, R-Jamestown; Ron Carlisle, R-Bismarck; and Gary Lee, R-Casselton.

Recommending a do-pass vote: Sens. Ray Holmberg, R-Grand Forks; Tony Grindberg, R-Fargo; Tim Mathern, D-Fargo; David O’Connell, D-Lansford; Larry Robinson, D-Valley City; and John Warner, D-Ryder.

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