California will join most other states in requiring kids to be 5 years old when they start kindergarten.
The bill signed Thursday by Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger pushes back the cutoff birth date for starting kindergarten from Dec. 2 to Sept. 1. The change will be phased in over three years starting in 2012.
The estimated $700 million saved by delaying kindergarten for an estimated 100,000 children annually will be used to pay for the new program.
Backers say the change will help more children succeed in school. Critics argue the new pre-kindergarten program could raise costs for taxpayers.