Sunday, April 17, 2011

Funding for Full-Day Kindergarten to Rise

Because Indiana is projected to increase its tax revenues by half a billion dollars in the next two fiscal years, $150 million more will be directed to K-12 in the budget being crafted. Here's how the Star's Mary Beth Schneider reports the money will be allocated: "About 25 percent will be used to increase the funding of full-day kindergarten. Another, smaller fund will be set aside to help school districts give merit pay increases to teachers under the new performance evaluation system being passed in this year’s legislature. The balance, he said, will go into the school funding formula to benefit all school districts."

The state currently supports full-day kindergarten with a fund of $58.5 million, to which the projected additional revenues would add about $38 million. A Department of Education release says "the funding increase will provide all schools access to full-day kindergarten grants, which currently reach about 75 percent of all full-day kindergarten students. The funding increase will allow the state to provide them to the remaining 25 percent."

Though this additional support does not constitute full funding for full-day kindergarten in Indiana (see this article from the Terre Haute Tribune Star), it certainly seems a step in a positive direction. And it will also be incumbent upon the legislature to determine how the funding will will be administered. Will, for example, full-day kindergarten become mandated? (See WISH video below.)

House Democratic leader Pat Bauer observes that while the funding is good news, schools have been cut $300 million in the past two years: “Our schools already have to make do with less than we promised. In that light, it is a small victory for our schools that this governor is restoring some of that lost funding, but it does not make up for the lost programs and personnel that have been inflicted on schoolchildren.” (Read more from the Fort Wayne Journal Gazette here.)

Read more from the Indy Star here.