Bartholomew Consolidated School Corp. opens Busy Bees Academies at Clifty Creek and Taylorsville elementaries to serve about 60 preschoolers. The Community Education Coalition and Cummins Inc. partnered to establish the program using a $700,000 donation Cummins gave after expanding its operations in Columbus and Seymour. BCSC announces it will expand the program in fall 2011 by turning Jefferson Education Center into a Busy Bees Academy for about 150 children. Jefferson Education Center was subsequently renamed the R.L. Johnson Center. The program is expected to cost about $1.7 million over three years and funding was secured from the coalition, Cummins Foundation, Arvin Gift Fund and the Heritage Fund — The Community Foundation of Bartholomew County.November 2012Bartholomew County voters reject a proposed property tax referendum that sought an increase of 5 cents per $100 assessed valuation, to generate $12.6 million over seven years to fund prekindergarten education. The increase would have added about $16 to the tax bill for a taxpayer with standard deductions with a $100,000 home. The money would be used to provide prekindergarten to all 4-year-olds in the BCSC district, about 900 children. The Heritage Fund and the Community Education Coalition pledged to give $700,000 during the same time period so private prekindergarten programs could distribute their own scholarships. The $700,000 donation was contingent on voters approving the referendum. Voters said no, voting 13,019 to 11,291, or 54 percent to 46 percent, against the referendum.
Bartholomew County seeks a spot in Indiana’s pilot voucher program for prekindergarten, which promised to provide low-income 4-year-olds in five counties with scholarships worth anywhere between $2,500 and $6,800 per student. The program, proposed by Columbus native and Gov. Mike Pence, would provide about 1,500 half- or full-day vouchers for children to attend a qualified program. Income requirements are about $30,000 or less for a family of four.
Bartholomew County is named among the 18 finalists for the state pilot voucher program, along with nearby Jackson County. The school corporation and other prekindergarten program providers in the county say they will submit a written statement of readiness to be in the program to state officials by June 30, 2014. A panel of experts will then review and score the statements to select the five pilot counties. Also, BCSC announces that it is hoping taxpayers will step in to fund prekindergarten for an estimated 450 local students a year who can’t afford it. The referendum, planned for November, seeks a tax rate increase of 5 cents per $100 assessed valuation, with voters having their say in November.
Bartholomew County is not chosen to be one of the five counties in the state pilot voucher program for prekindergarten. Allen, Jackson, Lake, Marion and Vanderburgh counties are chosen.
Bartholomew County voters again reject a referendum seeking an additional 5 cents per $100 assessed valuation in a school referendum during the fall of 2014, which would have generated 1.8 million annually to cover full-time prekindergarten for an estimated 450 students a year in Columbus who demonstrated financial need. After extensive campaigning, the ballot question failed as “no” voters prevailed 8,064 to 6,817, or 54 percent to 46 percent, in November 2014, with opponents arguing that the school corporation was asking for taxpayer money for publicly-funded day care.
Busy Bees applies to renew its Early Education Matching Grant, which was matched in 2014 by the Community Education Coalition. The grant for 2014 was $170,075 and provides scholarships for 50 local children whose family incomes are at 100 percent of the poverty level.
BCSC announces it will offer a five-day, full-day prekindergarten classes in the district’s three Title 1 elementary schools, Schmitt, Clifty Creek and Taylorsville during the 2015-16 school year. The schools offered half-day prekindergarten programs Monday through Thursday during the 2014-15 school year. Funding for the full-day program at the three Title 1 schools will be federal Title 1 funding. Neighborhood elementary schools, including CSA _ Fodrea/Lincoln campuses, Parkside, Richards, Smith and Southside, will offer the option of full or half days. Rockcreek and Mt. Healthy will offer only half-day because of school size. Fees will range from $130 weekly at Busy Bees to $105 weekly at the neighborhood schools, with half-day programs at $55 a week. Prekindergarten programs at Title 1 schools are offered to families at no charge.
Fifty area prekindergarten students will receive free tuition during the next school year after BCSC receives $170,000 through the Early Education Matching Grant for students at Busy Bees. As it did in 2014, the Community Education Coalition pledges to match the state amount with a $170,000 donation. To qualify for the help, children must come from a family of four that has a household income of less than $23,850 per year.