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Early childhood education program developing in Tippecanoe Co.

The three public school corporations in Tippecanoe County are set to collaborate on an initiative for early childhood education. The project’s other partners include Greater Lafayette Commerce and United Way, which coordinate the Read to Succeed program in area public schools.

West Lafayette Superintendent Rocky Killion says early education is the key to improving the overall quality of local schools.

"Collectively we're going to be stronger if we're all working together toward one common vision, one common purpose. And let's face it, the stronger our schools are, the stronger our community. If we have the best schools in the state, we'll have the best home values, we'll have the best economy in the state."

He expects to have the framework for a pilot program in place within the next year. Part of the effort involves a handbook of things children should know before kindergarten, including counting and speaking skills.

Killion says the state has no mandate for early childhood education, so it is important to get things started within the community.

"Indiana is one of the few states in the nation that hasn't focused on early childhood and hasn't focused on preschool. We're lagging way behind in this state with early learning and so it's very important for us to grasp the reins and move this forward for our community."

Officials from Lafayette, Tippecanoe, and West Lafayette school corporations discussed options for a new program at a collaboration committee meeting Tuesday night.