— At a meeting with reporters two days before the end of the 2012 legislative session, Gov. Mitch Daniels praised lawmakers for putting another $80 million into funding full-day kindergarten. He called it a major bipartisan accomplishment – and took some of the credit.
“This has been an eight-year endeavor of this administration,” Daniels said of the funding increase. “In 2006, about 1 in 7 5-year-olds had access to full-day kindergarten. It’s now 6 out of 7, and it will soon be universally available in our state.”
Whether that’s true is somewhat up in the air, but the governor’s efforts to spend another $230 million on education these past two years has to be heralded as good news in school districts across the state. About $117.5 million of that goes for full-day kindergarten.
Public school administrators, shell-shocked by the $450 million in budget cuts they’d been forced to make as part of property-tax reform, had been reluctant to predict what the new funding really will mean.
State officials say the $80 million will be added to the $96.5 million already set aside for full-day kindergarten statewide. That roughly $176.5 million in funding would then be allocated on a per-student basis to every school offering full-day kindergarten.
Thus, it’s impossible to say how much the change will mean to each school district. All
officials can say right now is that funding for full-day kindergarten is set to go up by about 83 percent.
As it now stands, about three-quarters of Indiana elementary schools offer full-day kindergarten. How much new funding will be available for the expanded kindergarten program will depend on how many schools decide to join that number.
Nevertheless, the new funding is a refreshing change from news school administrators have grown accustomed to hearing. It clearly won’t make up for the cuts of the previous three years, but it’s certainly a step in the right direction.
And the funding of a full-day kindergarten program across the state is something the state’s last three governors have tried to implement. That the state stands poised to achieve the goal at a time of fiscal uncertainty is a great accomplishment.
Full-day kindergarten has been proven to better prepare students for success in school. This move will put young Hoosiers on better footing to compete on a global scale.