SECTION 1. Sections 16-99-2, 16-99-3 and 16-99-4 of the General Laws in Chapter 16-
99 entitled "Full-Day Kindergarten Accessibility Act" are hereby amended to read as follows:
     16-99-2. Legislative findings. -- The general assembly hereby finds and declares as
      (1) According to the National Center for Education Statistics, children in full-day
kindergarten classes make greater academic gains in both reading and mathematics compared to
those in half-day classes;
      (2) According to Kids Count RI, full-day kindergarten can contribute to closing
academic achievement gaps between lower and higher income children;
      (3) According to the National Center for Education Statistics, full-day kindergarten
classes are more likely than half-day classes to instruct students daily in the areas of mathematics,
social studies and science; and
      (4) According to Kids Count RI, children in full-day kindergarten are more likely to be
ready for first grade than those in half-day programs, regardless of family income, parental
education and school characteristics; and.
      (5) While this act does not mandate school districts to operate a full-day kindergarten
program, it provides limited one-time, start-up funding for school districts that move to provide
students with access to full-day kindergarten programs, distributed on a competitive basis.
     16-99-3. Full-day kindergarten. -- (a) For the purpose of this chapter, the term "full-day
kindergarten" means a kindergarten program that operates a minimum of five and one-half (5 1/2)
hours or three hundred thirty (330) minutes of actual school work, excluding lunch, recess
periods, common planning time, pre- and post-school teacher time, study halls, homeroom
periods, student passing time and any other time that is not actual instructional time.
      (b) The commissioner of elementary and secondary education has discretion to further
define and approve full-day kindergarten programs consistent with this section through the 2015-
2016 school year.
     (c) Beginning August 2016, each school district must offer full-day kindergarten to every
eligible student to qualify for state education aid provided for in title 16. In fiscal year 2016, the
Rhode Island department of elementary and secondary education shall provide funding to support
transition expenses for all districts that do not offer universal full-day kindergarten programs in
the 2015-2016 school year. This funding shall not exceed the amount of state aid that would
otherwise have been provided to the district for operating a universal full-day kindergarten
program and shall be based upon 2015 enrollment data and funding formula transition rates. For
purposes of the calculation under this section, a district's half-day kindergarten enrollment as of
March 2015 shall be multiplied by two.
     16-99-4. Eligible school districts; funding. -- (a) A school district shall be eligible to
request funding pursuant to ยง 16-99-4(b), if:
      (1) The school district is a public school district; and
      (2) The school district operates a half-day kindergarten program as of September 1,
2012, but not a full-day kindergarten, as defined herein, serving more than one-half of the
kindergarten students in the district as determined on a headcount basis.
      (b) Subject to appropriation, beginning with school year 2013-2014, and through school
year 2014-2015, the commissioner of elementary and secondary education shall rank and approve
eligible public school districts that voluntarily implement a full-day kindergarten program as
defined herein. The aforementioned school district shall receive funding to offset a portion of the
reasonable, one-time start-up costs including, but not limited to, desks, books, facility upgrades,
ancillary costs associated with relocation of students, costs associated with the development and
implementation of new curriculum, and any other necessary expenses associated with each
school's implementation of a full-day kindergarten program. Ranking shall be based upon criteria
established by the commissioner of elementary and secondary education to ensure the quality and
sustainability of the full-day kindergarten programs implemented.
      In ranking the school districts' proposals, the commissioner shall consider the quality and
sustainability of the program and the average number of children eligible for USDA reimbursable
school meals served by the respective district's elementary schools with priority given to school
districts with enrollment greater than eight thousand (8,000).
      If no school district has enrollment greater than eight thousand (8,000), then priority
shall be given to school districts with enrollment greater than four thousand (4,000).
      (c) The commissioner shall fully fund all eligible expenditures of each district in rank
order. If a district's proposal cannot be fully funded, the district may either accept the available
funding for the project or refuse funding. If funding is refused, the commissioner shall fund the
next eligible school district's request based on the aforementioned ranking.
      (d) School districts receiving funds pursuant to this chapter must operate only a full-day
program, no half-day programs. The full-day kindergarten program must continue to operate for
five (5) years.
      (e) All funding provided under this section is subject to appropriation.
      (f) Notwithstanding the provisions of subsection (d), school districts that request funding
pursuant to this chapter may be allowed to phase-in the implementation of a full-day kindergarten
program, provided that the district provides the department of elementary and secondary
education with a schedule and plan as to the implementation of such program.
     SECTION 2. This article shall take effect upon passage.