Gov. Brownback visits Maize, promotes all-day kindergarten

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MAIZE, Kan. -- The debate on all-day kindergarten continues, as Gov. Sam Brownback promotes his plan for early education.

Brownback visited Vermillion Elementary Tuesday afternoon, where about half of its students are enrolled in the extended program.

"They all cover the same standards and curriculum, but to me, the biggest benefit is that the all-day kindergartners have more time," said principal Jeannine Pfannenstiel.

Pfannenstiel said the governor's plan would require more out of the schools but is encouraging for increasing overall standards.

"Almost all the studies say this is where to put the education dollars," Brownback said. "Get the best impact on students and turn these classrooms, I mean you see it, they're playing, but they're playing things that they're learning -- numbers, words -- and you're going 'this is a key time to get that child's mind really engaged in moving in a positive direction."

Critics argue that the plan would cost too much -- at $16 million a year for five years, nearing $80 million total.

Yet, the governor says the state is in a good place to invest in education.

"We've got nice growth taking place," he said. "When I came in, we were looking at a $500 million projected deficit and less than $1,000 cash on hand. We ended last fiscal year with over $700 million cash on hand and we just had a February with a very good receipts to the State of Kansas, so we're in a fiscal position now, having really taken a number of tough steps to get in position but we can now invest more in our schools."

Two weeks ago, a Kansas House Budget Committee restored $16 million for Brownback's plan. They set that money aside while a separate committee reviews the merits of the idea.

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