Some Indiana elementary schools continue to enroll 4-year-olds in spite of a new law that says the state will no longer fund these students.
Other districts denied enrollment saying they couldn’t absorb the cost of educating a kindergarten student.
Hamilton Southeastern Superintendent Allen Bourff says his district’s elementary schools will allow kindergarteners to continue the school year as planned. This will cost the district an estimated $5,000 per student.
“What that meant to those parents was they had already given up seats in pre-k school and already made arrangements for scheduling,” Bourff says. “We felt an obligation to meet those parents.”
Legislators who supported the law last session say too many students attended two years of kindergarten – contributing to a $22 million funding gap.
The Hamilton Southeastern schools will cover 60 kindergarteners out of pocket this year, and Bourff says that bill is an estimated $300,000.
“We size up every child who comes through seeking early admission. We reserve the right to say we believe your child is not prepared,” Bourff says. “So denying the student who is ready for school, denying them that support is depriving them of that healthy beginning.”
Bourff says it may be difficult for the district to absorb the high cost every year. And he says the district has reached out to legislators to consider other options.