Indiana Gov. Mitch Daniels has signed a bill into law providing additional statewide funding for full-day kindergarten programs, which should help fill budget shortfalls in some southern Indiana school districts.
Both Greater Clark County Schools and New Albany-Floyd County Schools already provide free full-day kindergarten programs to all students. It’s not required by the state, but both have made room in their budgets to support the programs.
GCCS began offering full-day kindergarten programs this school year, adding nearly $800,000 dollars to the budget, said Chief Operating Officer Marty Bell.
“We used some federal resources that were cycling out to help us pay for this last year, 11/12. So we were hoping for it, but we knew there were no guarantees,” said Bell.
Under the bill, $2,400 will be allocated per student enrolled in a full-day program. The state previously offered $1,200 through its full-day grant program. This provides nearly $80 million more towards kindergarten programs in the state.
Indiana has decided to support kindergarten education after the state found around $300 million that had been misplaced.
Bell said he expects the funds to help patch GCCS’s budget shortfall. This year the district was forced to cut or find savings of $4 million.
“We’re still struggling with about a $750,000 deficit, so what its doing is helping us with our deficit. And we’ve done some budget cutting and what it will help us do is hopefully reduce some of the budget cutting that we were having to do this year,” said Bell.
Superintendent Stephen Daeschner told WFPL this week he was working on a budget to present to the school board next month.
Prior to supporting full-day programs, the district had nearly 780 students in either half-day programs or full-day programs, which required parents to pay some tuition, said Bell.
Since the district began offering free full-day programs this year, 830 students are now being served, he said.
New Albany-Floyd County Schools has been offering full-day programs for a number of years, said Fred McWhorter, chief business officer. The district is running a nearly $2.7 million deficit that’s being supported by rainy day and other funding, he said.
Indiana supports half-day programs, which gives New Albany-Floyd County Schools around $2,625 per student enrolled. The additional grant of $2,400 being offered this year will nearly pay the $5,249 per pupil cost for the full-day program, he said.