Even though Ohio Republicans are preparing legislation that could repeal the requirement that school districts offer tuition-free, all-day kindergarten, Bexley City Schools officials have no interest in doing away with the program.

Even though Ohio Republicans are preparing legislation that could repeal the requirement that school districts offer tuition-free, all-day kindergarten, Bexley City Schools officials have no interest in doing away with the program.

Rep. Randy Gardner, R-Bowling Green, is sponsoring legislation that would repeal key elements of Ohio's school-funding setup, including all-day kindergarten.

In addition to dropping the all-day-kindergarten requirement, the proposed legislation would allow public schools that now charge tuition for the all-day program to continue doing so. Under current law, districts cannot charge tuition after this school year.

Last February, the Bexley schools board voted down a resolution 3-2 to ask the Ohio Department of Education to accept a waiver request for the program. Board members Marlee Snowdon, Carol Fey and Joan Fishel voted against the resolution; Craig Halliday and Diane Peterson voted for it.

Under legislation passed in June 2009, the district could seek waivers for lack of space. New legislation passed in December 2009 as part of the state budget bill gives districts more flexibility to apply for and receive a waiver.

Superintendent Mike Johnson said even with the proposed bill he doesn't anticipate school district officials changing their minds about all-day kindergarten.

"We went ahead and implemented it this year when we knew full well we could have asked for a waiver," he said. "Once implemented it is our position to maintain it and no one has given me any indication we are going to reverse our position."

Johnson said school district officials see the benefit of all-day kindergarten and he couldn't anticipate a scenario where Bexley would quit offering the program even if the legislation passes.

Snowdon said the district should "absolutely continue with our all-day kindergarten programming.

"I was an advocate for all-day kindergarten before there was a state mandate and I will be after," she said. "It is an excellent way to proactively address the needs of our youngest learns in a very cost-effective manner."

Snowdon said research shows that children who attend all-day kindergarten are better equipped to read and do math for the rest of their academic careers.

"It also gives us the time to teach the 'whole child' that is art, music, library time and gym class that we value so much as a community here in Bexley," Snowdon said. "I believe the reason it will no longer be required by the state is not because it is a bad idea but simply because there is not enough money in the state's budget to support mandating it."

Halliday, one of the two board members interested in seeking the waiver last year, said it was not his intent to alter the current state of all-day kindergarten paid for by the citizens of Bexley.

However if the administration were to bring a policy forward to alter the program he would have to consider it, Halliday said.

"I would be open to anything brought to us as a board," he said. "I don't have an ax to grind. It was a conversation we had collectively. We've dealt with the issue and I've moved on."