Pre-K expansion moves forward for Hoosiers

TERRE HAUTE, Ind. (WTHI) – Indiana is one of eight states without publicly-funded preschool according to the Indiana General Assembly.

But that could change with current Senate Bill 276 that’s progressing through the statehouse.

At Small World Learning Center, the benefits can be stacked in threes: academics, social skills and emotional growth. It’s a pre-k program that Nic Tracker, the administrator at Small World Learning Center, wishes to see for all children in the Hoosier state.

“Honestly we’d like to see it rolled out for all the kiddos. I’d hate to pick and choose because they all deserve it,” said Tacker.

Indiana lawmakers voted in favor of expanding state-funded preschool for all counties this week. Under current law, state funding is only available for low-income children in five specific counties.

“It’s a big deal in Vigo County because we really want to get those kiddos educated so we can break the cycle,” said Tacker.

The proposal that’s now advancing increases funds by $3,000,000 for all counties in Indiana.

“Middle-income students normally have some sort of preschool but low-income students do not have that kind of advantage,” said Representative Clyde Kersey (D – Terre Haute). “So when they start kindergarten or first grade, the low-income students start out behind the rest of the kids and they never catch up.”

Many lawmakers like Representative Kersey hope for a larger increase, but opponents to the bill want to see more research before spending millions of dollars.

Tacker says as of now his preschool is the only program in Vigo County receiving state funds.

But he hopes the bill can help others fund the building blocks of education.

Senate Bill 276 was approved in the Senate on Tuesday, 41-9. It now moves to the House of Representatives for a hearing.