Pre-K pilot program gives students advantage

Children need to get off to a good start in school so a strong foundation is laid for their academic careers. A strong foundation sets them up for greater success later in life.

One way to do this is through pre-kindergarten education programs.

More schools are offering pre-K programs, including Bartholomew Consolidated School Corp., but funding has been a challenge. Two local referendums have failed in the past five years that would have provided scholarships to about 450 low-income 4-year-olds, for example.

The need for such help for families is significant. More than 40 percent of Bartholomew Consolidated School Corp.’s students qualify for free or reduced lunches.

However, the Indiana Legislature has yet to fully embrace providing pre-K funding to all schools who meet state guidelines, which is unfortunate.

Bartholomew Consolidated will experience a 10 percent drop in enrollment in the coming school year because of funding constraints, which is a shame. That means children from families with fewer means to provide for their children’s educations will miss the opportunity to get a head start, which is a tragedy.

The good news is that Bartholomew Consolidated School Corp. Superintendent Jim Roberts and school officials found an alternative funding source that will help a year from now. It’s the On My Way Pre-K state pilot program, which was started initially to help fund pre-kindergarten education for children of families with low incomes from five counties.

However, Bartholomew County was one of 15 added by state lawmakers during this year’s legislative session. Roberts and other school district officials are to be commended for pursuing this opportunity.

The ability to participate in the program and receive state funding will make a difference because more children will have an opportunity to get a head start.

Local school officials said they will be aggressive in finding families of eligible 4-year-olds to offer the opportunity for the children to get a jump on their educations. Parents of eligible children should seize the opportunity.

Education matters, and the ability to start children in the right direction is important.

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