Before pre-K expansion, Indiana lawmakers want statewide numbers

INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) — Before Indiana decides to expand its prekindergarten program, some lawmakers want to take a look at how many kids use this service.

Right now, the state has a pre-K pilot program in five counties, including Marion County. Republicans want to expand to 10 counties and double the money from $10 million to $20 million.

The program helps low-income families get their four-year-olds into pre-K programs. Early education isn’t cheap.

State numbers show families can easily spend more than $5,000 a year on programs like this. But before the state spends more money, the Senate Education and Career Development Committee talked about a study bill.

It’s legislation that its author says they need to pass in order to grasp how many kids are in pre-K and exactly what type they’re in: whether it’s a school, church or head start program.

“Seriously before we do anything, we need to find out what we really have in Indiana, and I think we have some need,” State Sen. Jean Leising said. “I think there are some children that aren’t covered by anything of these things I told you about,” Leasing continued.

But not everyone is on board with the pre-K expansion. Democrats don’t think 10 counties is enough.

They also are concerned about accountability regarding how schools would receive state vouchers to fund it.