In some communities, like Floyd County where Clere is from, local foundations stepped in to provide the extra dollars to the schools to support a full-day program.
“Access to full-day kindergarten was limited by financial means,” Clere said. “We’re finally moving past that.”
Education experts say full-day kindergarten programs give students, especially those from low-income families, a boost in their later academic success.
The legislation that doubled the dollars for full-day kindergarten guarantees $2,400 in state money for every child enrolled in a full-day kindergarten program. Schools were getting only about $1,200 per kindergarten student before the legislation passed.
The legislature approved the temporary increase in kindergarten dollars for this school year. But in signing the legislation into law, Daniels said it signaled a shift in commitment from the legislature to spend more dollars on education.
“This is never going away, and the finances of the state clearly support it,” Daniels said at the time. “This is not inexpensive, but we think it’s the next best investment to make in education.”
Daniels had pushed the idea for more kindergarten funding earlier this year as state revenues were rebounding. This summer, he announced that Indiana ended the fiscal year with a $2 billion surplus.
Earlier this fall, Republican leaders in the Statehouse, who hold a super-majority in both the state House and Senate, said they were committed to spending more state dollars on early childhood education.
In January, when the legislature goes back into session, lawmakers will be crafting a two-year budget bill that includes education spending.