Districts: Full-day kindergarten funds not enough

Indiana Gov. Mitch Daniels' plan to allocate $47 million for full-day kindergarten in districts that don't offer it isn't likely to be enough to make that vision a reality, some districts say.

"He's trying to act like it's a big deal and this is wonderful and everybody's going to get full-day kindergarten. I don't believe that's going to be the case," said Nancy Farley, director of student services for Anderson Community Schools.

An upswing in state revenues prompted Daniels earlier this month to announce he was recommending the new state budget include an additional $150 million for K-12 education. About a fourth of that would be used to bring full-day kindergarten to the 25 percent of districts that don't currently offer it.

While the news was hailed by many, some districts say the money isn't enough to fund the full-day programs.

"Right now, today, sitting here, this means 20 additional dollars per student, but it's not a significant enough amount that changes our situation," Joel Martin, superintendent of Oak Hill United School Corporation in Grant County, told the Chronicle-Tribune in Marion.

Indiana does not require students to attend kindergarten. The state provides funding for half-day kindergarten programs and gives an additional amount for students in full-day programs. Those dollars are divided among all full-day kindergarten students across the state.

John Trout, Madison-Grant United superintendent, said districts get $2,951 per half-day kindergarten student. The current full-day grants provide an additional $1,030, but he said he would still be about $2,000 short of the cost to educate a student all day even with additional K-12 funding.

Farley contends the additional kindergarten funding will benefit more affluent districts that don't qualify for Title I funding.

She told The Herald Bulletin in Anderson that the state needs to make kindergarten mandatory, which would give districts more money.

District leaders say full-day kindergarten is a key tool in creating successful students.

"The sooner you start off, the better students they will be," said Michael Powell, superintendent of Mississinewa Community Schools.

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