Committee to Take up Indy Pre-K Proposal

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A pre-kindergarten proposal will go before a City-County Council committee today in Indianapolis. It includes public and private funding and has bi-partisan support. Mayor Greg Ballard has championed an aggressive early-child education program as part of a larger public safety initiative. News Release

Originally Distributed November 5, 2014

INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. - City/County Council President Maggie Lewis and Vice President John Barth, along with a bipartisan group of Councilors, announced today they will introduce a proposal to establish the Indianapolis Pre-K Program at the Council's November 10th meeting.

Recognizing that families with modest incomes have the least access to quality pre-K, the proposal focuses on families whose annual income is less than 127 percent of the federal poverty level. For a family of four, 127 percent of the federal poverty level is an annual income of $30,290. The program will serve both three and four year olds.

"The Indianapolis Pre-K program will provide access to high-quality early preschool to help close the learning gap for those most in need," said Council Vice President John Barth. "I'm proud that, through hard work and careful negotiations, this proposal has earned bipartisan Council support as well as support from the Mayor's Office and the corporate community. But I am most gratified that it will help children in our community get a better start in school."

Proposal 237 is co-sponsored by Democrats Maggie A. Lewis, John Barth, Leroy Robinson, Pam Hickman, Steve Talley, Mary Moriarty Adams and Vop Osili, and Republicans Jeff Miller and Ben Hunter.

Pre-K Program Highlights:

-Covers children starting at age three.

-Targets families at or under 127 percent of the federal poverty level (program can serve families at higher FPL levels with Council approval).

-Funds only high quality pre-K providers, as defined by the Indiana Family and Social Services Administration's Paths to QUALITY program.

-Creates a process for oversight and accountability by tasking the Council's Community Affairs and Education Committee to oversee the overall program and its budget.

Limits spending to pay for direct services to children only, not provider capacity building. Funds from the corporate community will be used for pre-K provider capacity building.

"This pre-K proposal keeps the focus where it should be - on our city's most at-risk families by ensuring that their children have access to high quality early childhood education," said Council President Maggie A. Lewis. "This proposal puts forward a high-quality pre-K program and gets our city's youngest and most vulnerable residents on a path to good education and brighter future."

"Council leadership thanks Mayor Ballard for proposing the initial concept of a pre-k program for Indianapolis," President Lewis continued. "We also thank Deputy Mayor Jason Kloth, Chief of Staff Jason Dudich and former Chief of Staff Ryan Vaughn for their work with the Council in developing the initiative."

The sponsors have identified $15 million to dedicate to this program over a five-year period, with a commitment to identify additional funds each year. Identified funds include savings from removing 35,000 ineligible homes from the Homestead Tax Credit program, reallocation of funds currently used for oversight of charter schools, and interest from the Fiscal Stability Fund.

"I'm pleased to be a co-sponsor of this proposal; it shows what can be done when elected officials put politics aside and work together on the priorities of our city," said District 19 Councilor Jeff Miller.

If the ordinance is approved, the city's investment will leverage $10 million in Indianapolis private sector funding, which Eli Lilly and Company has pledged to raise. In addition, the program is expected to leverage an additional $10 million in philanthropic and other donations - fully separate from the Indianapolis private sector investment. The Indianapolis Pre-K Program is a pilot over five years, funded from public and private funds, aimed directly at providing a path for children from venerable families to a better education and a better life.

"I applaud the leadership and vision of the Indianapolis companies who are committed to helping expand early childhood education opportunities in our community, especially Eli Lilly, who is a cornerstone of this pre-k program," said President Lewis.

Source: The Office of Indianapolis City-Council President Maggie Lewis

Statement from Mayor Greg Ballard on Agreement to Fund Early Childhood Education Plan Released November 5, 2014:

"Today marks a great day for the future of our city and its children. Four months ago, I proposed a holistic approach to make our city safer by addressing the root causes of crime and poverty, including a plan to make preschool affordable to families in need.

Indy is now positioning itself as a leader in local support for preschool. The research is clear - children from low-income families who attend high-quality preschool do better in school later in life and are less likely to get in trouble with the law as juveniles and as adults.

I want to thank Council Republicans for their steadfast support, as well as Council Leadership, Eli Lilly, and our other corporate and philanthropic partners for helping us reach this bipartisan agreement. I encourage the Council to get this agreement on my desk so I can sign it and we can start enrolling children in preschool next year."

Source: The Office of Mayor Greg Ballard