Transitional kindergarten could be spared budget cuts
The education finance subcommittee voted Tuesday to reject the elimination of transitional kindergarten, an extra year of school for children too young or unprepared for regular kindergarten.
Citing research on the importance of early childhood education, advocates of transitional kindergarten have said the program will pay dividends because students will be better prepared down the line. The program has been tested in various school districts and is scheduled to be phased in statewide this fall.
Three Democrats on the panel voted to preserve the program; one Republican voted to cut it.
"Today's action sent a very helpful message, both to districts and parents who have been concerned, but also to the administration," said Sen. Joseph Simitian (D-Palo Alto), who wrote the bill creating transitional kindergarten.
Since Brown unveiled his spending plan in early January, members of his own party have repeatedly voted against some of his more controversial proposals. Assembly subcommittees also rejected cuts to CalWORKs, the state welfare program, and Cal Grants state-funded scholarships.
H.D. Palmer, a spokesman for Brown's Department of Finance, has warned that lawmakers will need to find cuts elsewhere in the budget to close a projected $9.2-billion deficit.
Top Democrats have said they want to wait until revised budget numbers are available in May before deciding on steep cuts to government programs.
-- Chris Megerian in Sacramento
Photo: Students in a transitional kindergarten class at Carver Elementary School in Long Beach. Credit: Bob Chamberlin / Los Angeles Times