Indiana News

Preschool Pilot Program Awaits Vote in House


Indiana businesses are giving an enthusiastic endorsement to a proposed state preschool tuition-assistance program.

The House could vote next week on a proposal to set aside seven-million dollars for a five-county pilot program to help low-income families afford preschool. House Education Committee Chairman Robert Behning (R-Indianapolis) says that should be enough to send a thousand kids to preschool.

At a committee hearing on the bill, representatives of PNC Bank, Cummins and the Lilly Foundation all noted their corporations' financial support for preschool, and said there's no question that pupils who start in a quality preschool are better prepared for school. Cummins vice president Mark Gerstle says a Cummins-sponsored preschool in Columbus has seen an average development of more than two years' worth of arithmetic, geometry and English development, and close to that much in children's social and emotional skills.

Ted Maple with United Way of Central Indiana says even students not receiving tuition assistance may benefit, because the lure of state funding will encourage more child-care programs to beef up their educational component to qualify to receive students under the program.

The House could also vote next week on an expansion of Indiana's private-school voucher program. Governor Pence has requested an extension of eligibility to foster kids, special ed students, children of veterans, and siblings of students already receiving vouchers. The bill also increases the maximum value of each voucher to 65-hundred dollars.


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