Indiana funding jump would end kindergarten fees

Back to TopCommentsE-mailPrintBookmark and Share

Parents across Indiana weary of paying sometimes-hefty fees for their children to attend full-day kindergarten classes could soon catch a break.

State legislators are poised to adopt a plan directing about $80 million more in the coming year toward school districts for providing full-day kindergarten — with the caveat that districts can no longer charge extra fees.

The state began providing funding for full-day kindergarten programs in 2005, with that amount growing from an initial $8.5 million to nearly $82 million for the current school year. The state funding for the extra hours of kindergarten classes, however, has always lagged far behind what school districts received for the traditional half-day programs.

That has led many school districts to charge fees ranging from about $1,000 to more than $2,500 a year.

The Senate Appropriations Committee on Thursday endorsed the additional money for full-day kindergarten that was included in a bill that cleared the House last month on a 96-2 vote.

The plan still must gain final legislative approval, but the Legislature's budget leaders are in agreement that the kindergarten money should be included in the plan to spend a portion of $320 million in corporate taxes that officials found late last year. That money had been collected over four years but not properly deposited in state accounts.

House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Jeff Espich, R-Uniondale, says he's confident that most school districts will be able to provide full-day kindergarten without additional fees based on a review of school spending on the programs.

School districts now receive about $2,750 — half of the state's average per-pupil funding — for each kindergarten student. The extra funding for next school year will give school districts $2,400 per child to cover the other half of the kindergarten day, up from nearly $1,250 this year.

The state Department of Education and the state's school groups don't track how many districts are charging full-day kindergarten fees, but most districts should be able to afford the programs without those fees, said Dennis Costerison, an education lobbyist and executive director of the Indiana Association of School Business Officials.

"For many districts, the money will fully fund it and we're getting much, much closer to having a fully funded full-day kindergarten program," Costerison said. "There's no doubt with these dollars."

The expansion of full-day kindergarten programs has been popular with parents.

State Department of Education figures show that nearly 66,500 kindergartners are in full-day programs this school year, with about 11,700 in half-day programs. That is a reversal from 2006, when about 10,000 children attended full-day programs and nearly 66,000 were enrolled in half-day kindergarten.

Some in the Statehouse, however, maintain that the state budget should provide the same amount for full-day kindergartners as it does for older students — and not just partial funding based on an extra pool of money.

"They are going in the right direction, but until that kindergarten student is counted as one student in the count, full-day kindergarten will not be fully funded," said Democratic Rep. Terry Goodin of Austin, who is superintendent of the Crothersville Community Schools.

Goodin said his school district has not been charging for full-day kindergarten, but that he realizes why many others might need to do so.

Senate Appropriations Committee Chairman Luke Kenley, R-Noblesville, doesn't believe districts need as much money to educate a kindergartner as they need for a high school student taking classes such as calculus and chemistry

"I think if we actually went in and did an industrial-level study on how much it costs to teach kindergartners, I think they'd be getting less than they're getting with this," Kenley said.

The state still won't require children to attend kindergarten, but state schools Superintendent Tony Bennett said the funding increase will remove a financial barrier to some families for the full-day program.

"I heard more and more districts say last year they were going to bring kids into full-day kindergarten, so I don't think this is going to do anything but bring in even more," Bennett said.


  • kindergarten funding
    I understand where you are coming from, but think you have it reversed. Funding needs to be available prior (or simlutaneously) to making kindergarten mandatory. Additionally, making just half day mandatory (and funded) is not logistically possible for many families...so the only option to making kindergarten mandatory is to require and fund a whole day.
  • kindergarten funding
    All day kindergarten funding is a joke. How about making kindergarten mandatory first. I don't understand funding something when it isn't even mandatory. In the state of Indiana a child does not have to be a registered student until the age of 7. Maybe the state should revise that law first!

    Post a comment to this story

    We reserve the right to remove any post that we feel is obscene, profane, vulgar, racist, sexually explicit, abusive, or hateful.
    You are legally responsible for what you post and your anonymity is not guaranteed.
    Posts that insult, defame, threaten, harass or abuse other readers or people mentioned in IBJ editorial content are also subject to removal. Please respect the privacy of individuals and refrain from posting personal information.
    No solicitations, spamming or advertisements are allowed. Readers may post links to other informational websites that are relevant to the topic at hand, but please do not link to objectionable material.
    We may remove messages that are unrelated to the topic, encourage illegal activity, use all capital letters or are unreadable.

    Messages that are flagged by readers as objectionable will be reviewed and may or may not be removed. Please do not flag a post simply because you disagree with it.

    Sponsored by

    facebook - twitter on Facebook & Twitter

    Follow on TwitterFollow IBJ on Facebook:
    Follow on TwitterFollow IBJ's Tweets on these topics:
    Subscribe to IBJ
    1. why oh why does this state continue to elect these people....do you wonder how much was graft out of the 3.8 billion?

    2. i too think this is a great idea. I think the vision and need is there as well. But also agree with Wendy that there may be better location in our city to fulfill this vision and help grow the sports of hockey and figure skating in Indy. Also to help further develop other parts of the city that seem often forgotten. Any of the other 6 townships out side of the three northernmost could benefit greatly from a facility and a vision like this. For a vision that sounds philanthropic, the location is appears more about the money. Would really like to see it elsewhere, but still wish the development the best of luck, as we can always use more ice in the city. As for the Ice growth when they return, if schedules can be coordinated with the Fuel, what could be better than to have high level hockey available to go see every weekend of the season? Good luck with the development and the return of the Ice.

    3. How many parking spaces do they have at Ironworks? Will residents have reserved spaces or will they have to troll for a space among the people that are there at Ruth Chris & Sangiovese?

    4. You do not get speeding ticket first time you speed and this is not first time Mr.Page has speed. One act should not define a man and this one act won't. He got off with a slap on the wrist. I agree with judge no person was injured by his actions. The state was robbed of money by paying too much rent for a building and that money could have been used for social services. The Page family maybe "generous" with their money but for most part all of it is dirty money that he obtained for sources that are not on the upright. Page is the kind of lawyer that gives lawyers a bad name. He paid off this judge like he has many other tine and walked away. Does he still have his license. I believe so. Hire him to get you confiscated drug money back. He will. It will cost you.

    5. I remain amazed at the level of expertise of the average Internet Television Executive. Obviously they have all the answers and know the business inside and out.