Indiana

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Small-Scale Pilot Program Could Still End Up In Indiana Preschool Proposal

A student plays during an activity period at Busy Bees Academy, a public preschool in Columbus.

Elle Moxley / StateImpact Indiana

A student plays during an activity period at Busy Bees Academy, a public preschool in Columbus.

Senate President Pro Tem David Long says lawmakers are considering a compromise on pre-K legislation that could move the issue beyond just a summer study committee.

The House passed a bill earlier this session creating a pilot program that would provide vouchers for low-income Hoosier children to attend preschool. But the Senate eliminated the program, creating instead a comprehensive summer study on pre-K.

As House and Senate leaders negotiate over the pre-K bill’s final product, Long says a smaller version of the pilot could be in the works.

“There’s an argument that we need to have something out there to see what is or isn’t working, so you have an opportunity, then, to implement some evidence-based programs out there that we can look towards as we talk about implementing a much larger program in the state,” says Long.

Gov. Mike Pence has been vocal recently in his call for the legislature to revive a pre-K pilot. Senate Appropriations Chairman Luke Kenley, R-Noblesville, says that’s entering into the discussion.

“But it’s just an honest evaluation of how you take a measuring stick and you know me – if I don’t think we ought to be spending money, I’ll just going to say we shouldn’t be spending money,” says Kenley.

The original House pilot program wouldn’t have started until fall of 2015. Long says there’s a chance the new proposal could begin as early as this year.

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