Indiana News

Indy Pre-K Program Gaining Steam

INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. (WOWO): There is still work to be done but Indy is a step closer to offering taxpayer-funded preschool to more low income students.

Mayor Greg Ballard signed the $40 million pre-K bill passed by the City-County Council on December 1. The compromise plan spends less than Ballard‘s initial $50 million plan, but the mayor was gratified to get the plan through, saying around 1,300 low-income children will benefit.

 “I think we are sending a signal that we think this is very important, and I would suggest that other cities across the state are looking at us too and saying ‘we know that‘s important, too,” Ballard said. Marion County is already gaining about 400 additional pre-K slots as one of the five counties involved in the state‘s one-year pilot preschool program.

Half of the money for the four-year preschool plan will come from taxpayers, through a variety of sources – that is still to be determined through the council‘s budget process. The rest will come from businesses and foundations.

“They know this is their future workforce. They know it right now, and in terms of public support, this is very, very popular,” Ballard said. While the Democratic majority on the council initially seemed to oppose the pre-K plan, council members from both parties worked to forge the compromise. “We are hear because elected officials from different parties, community non-profits, and business leaders came together to address a serious problem,” said Democratic Council vice president John Barth. 

The preschool plan also was part of Ballard‘s larger plan to fight crime, an attempt to start at what some consider the roots of violent crime. “It‘s clear by nearly every measure that access to high quality early education puts kids from families in need on the path to a better life,” Barth said.

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