NewsEducationEducation Policy / August 6, 2014

Ferebee and Ballard Push for PreK Plan

Sam Klemet
Ferebee and Ballard Push for PreK Plan

Last week, Indianapolis Mayor Greg Ballard announced a plan that would give 1,300 low-income students access to preschool.

Wednesday, he and Indianapolis Public Schools Superintendent Lewis Ferebee visited preschool students to see the impact of enrolling before kindergarten.

A classroom of about a dozen four year olds at Eliza Blaker School 55 sang along to songs teaching them about the days of the week and letters of the alphabet.

Mayor Ballard says having these students do these types of activities, now, gives them a leg up in their educational future.

"If we don't take care of the kids at a young age, they are not going to grow up to live productive lives," said Ballard.  "Somewhere along the line we forgot that.  We just forgot it."

He says it’s common sense to ensure early education and wants to invest $25 million to help low-income kids attend preschool. 

Coupled with matching grants, the Mayor hopes to invest $50 million by 2020.

It’s part of his overall strategy to reduce crime in the city.

Superintendent Ferebee supports the idea and says the district has room and will to accommodate PreK students.

And by investing in offering preschool to even more families, now, Ferebee thinks IPS will save money down the road.

"When students are two or more years behind, particularly in their literacy skills, you have to provide at least twice the amount of instructional time to get them to grade level," he said.  "We believe that this is a much smarter, more strategic way to ensure that we are not investing our resources on the back end, but we are addressing this on the front end."

Ballard plans to introduce the proposal to the fully city county council, August 18th and says he is confident it will garner bipartisan support.