HELENA — After signing House Bill 352 into law in May, Governor Greg Gianforte spent Monday morning at Bryant Elementary in Helena, reading to a group of children in Kinder Sprouts, promoting early childhood literacy.
“When kids start to read it really opens up all kinds of additional learning. You can’t do math if you can’t read. You can’t learn history if you can’t read. You can’t enjoy literature if you can’t read. You can’t enjoy any subject. Reading is really the first step to starting down a road to help each child reach their full potential,” says Governor Gianforte.
Governor Gianforte spent some time reading to Sally Hicks’ Kinder Sprouts class of 4-year-olds. Kinder Sprouts is Helena Public Schools' new pilot program for children under exceptional circumstances.
House Bill 352 will provide funding for schools in order to provide early literacy interventions for children older than 3. This bill will work to support reading proficiency by 3rd grade. Additionally, parents will be provided with access to free virtual literacy programs.
“Early childhood literacy is critical to open the doors for education. And this bill allow, provides resources to allow for early intervention to make sure our kids start reading at a young age,” says Governor Gianforte.
House Bill 352 won’t be enacted until July 1, 2024, and will provide $1.5 million to the Office of Public Instruction from the state general fund to be allocated for early childhood literacy.
Representative Brad Barker of Red Lodge, a sponsor of House Bill 352, says that an educated population is necessary for our state and country.
“I just think that education is one of the most important things that we do as a society. I think it was Thomas Jefferson that probably said it best when he said that an educated population, or words to that effect, an educated population is the repository of a republic. And if we don’t have an educated population, it’s hard for us to be able to maintain the standards of a free society,” says Barker.
Additionally, the Governor highlighted First Lady Susan Gianforte’s initiative, the Dolly Parton Imagination Library. The program is currently available in every zip code in Montana and offers eligible children a free, age-appropriate book every month.