The Full Day Kindergarten Grant was created by the state legislature in 2005 to focus on early childhood education in Indiana. This year, the state will allocate almost $190 million for the full-day kindergarten. The money, which comes from the state, is enough to cover costs for close to three quarters of a school day for each child, with local school corporations picking up the remainder of the tab.
Christi Fenton, Director for Elementary Education for the Vigo County School Corporation, says Vigo County, like most districts across the state, saw a marked increase in full-day kindergarten enrollment this year, compared to 2011. Fenton attributes the jump to the amount the state now contributes to full-day kindergarten, which nearly doubled over the past year.
“We knew that there was a great demand for it out there and that parents did want their kids in kindergarten, but even last year when we had the parent option to pay, we had quite a few that took advantage of it,” Fenton says. “But there’s a lot of families that weren’t able to because of the cost it.”
Indiana State Teachers Association Spokesman Mark Shoup says while the teachers union is in favor of full-day kindergarten he hopes the increased funding will not come at the expense of other education programs.
“We want kids who are successful in Indiana K-16,” Shoup says. “So we believe it’s the responsibility of our policymakers to make sure that funding is adequate for all stages of children’s development across the state.”
Nearly 20 percent more students statewide are attending full-day kindergarten this year than were enrolled in similar classes last year.