Senate Approves Pre-K Program Study Committee

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The Indiana Senate has removed language establishing a state-funded preschool pilot program from a bill passed by the Indiana House. The amended proposal would send the issue to a study commission. The bill now returns to the House.

February 27, 2014

News Release

Indianapolis, Ind. -- House Bill (HB) 1004, authored by House Education Committee Chairman Rep. Bob Behning (R-Indianapolis) and co-authored by House Speaker Brian C. Bosma (R-Indianapolis) passed out of the Senate today with a 43-5 vote. HB 1004 establishes the Pre-K and early learning study commission. The bill was amended in the Senate to remove language establishing a preschool pilot program for low-income students.

"Although the bill doesn't look quite the way I want it to at this point, I'm pleased that we are at least keeping the concept moving," said Rep. Behning. "Unfortunately the current bill fails to begin creating a high quality preschool program that helps our students of low-income families, but my hope is we can blend the two versions in conference committee and get the pilot program and a study commission."

The commission's charged tasks include, but are not limited to, the following:

• Studying the economic benefits of Pre-K or early learning programs;

• Studying the feasibility of obtaining a block grant and necessary waivers under the federal Head Start program to establish an early learning scholarship program or another type of alternative program;

• Studying the feasibility of obtaining a Child Care and Development Block Grant or other federal funds to fund Pre-K or early learning education programs in Indiana;

• Studying options for funding Pre-K or early learning programs, including opportunities to partner with businesses, philanthropic or community leaders

• Reviewing whether other states have developed rigorous accountability standards for Pre-K or early learning programs

"The outcome of this bill was not what we initially hoped for, but House Republicans will continue to work on our proposal to provide a high quality preschool opportunity for low-income families. Establishing a study commission is at least a step towards continuing the conversation so we can hopefully have everyone on board in the coming year, as this topic is not only an education issue, but inevitably a workforce issue for our state," said Speaker Bosma.

The bill now returns to the House for further action.

Source: Indiana House of Representatives Republican Caucus