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New Coalition Pushes To Expand State-Funded Pre-K

Jeanne Christine

A coalition of business, government, education and philanthropic leaders say they are determined to push state lawmakers to expand state-funded preschool in the upcoming legislative session.

“All IN 4 Pre-K” is a new advocacy group that includes Indianapolis Mayor Joe Hogsett, outgoing Eli Lilly CEO John Lechleiter, the Indiana Chamber of Commerce and Early Learning Indiana

Lechleiter says the state's pre-k pilot program is not enough to meet demand.

He says only 2,300 families of low-income three- and four- year olds in five counties received scholarships in the past two years.

“We believe that families and their children in all of Indiana’s 92 counties should have access to high quality, early learning environments,” he says.

The group members say they will directly lobby lawmakers to pass new laws in 2017.

While no specific legislation has been drafted, they want to see broader income-eligibility requirements for pre-k, and elimination of matching funding for counties.

This group will lobby the legislature to provide pre-k scholarships for families that meet certain income guidelines, and not free preschool for all. Universal pre-k in Indiana is something state superintendent Glenda Ritz and Democratic gubernatorial candidate John Gregg are advocating for.

Currently, the state provides pre-k scholarships for low income families through its pilot program, On My Way Pre-k.

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