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Letter: Vote ‘yes’ to help children who are at risk


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Note: The statements, views, and opinions contained in this letter to the editor are those of the author and are not endorsed by, nor do they necessarily reflect, the opinions of The Republic.

From: John Burnett

Columbus

Received: Oct. 27

I would like to encourage all local voters to vote “Yes” on the first question on the ballot in the Nov. 6 election.

I served as a member of the 2009 study team that reviewed and analyzed the state of early education in our community, and in particular pre-kindergarten for 4-year-olds. What our team found was that nearly half of the 4-year-old children (450 of 900 annually) in our community are from families who do not have sufficient income to enroll their children in a high quality pre-k program. We also learned there were not nearly enough “seats” available for these children.

The Community Education Coalition stepped forward to raise funds from the private sector (Cummins, Heritage Fund — the Community Foundation of Bartholomew County, Arvin Gift Fund, and CEC’s own funds) to pilot a public pre-k program for 4-year-olds. We also created a scholarship fund for high quality private pre-k providers, to add even more “seats” for families who could not afford pre-k for their children, and who had a desire to enroll their children in a private program. If the pilot proved successful, then it was planned that the Bartholomew Consolidated School Corp. would raise ongoing funds from the community, and CEC, Heritage Fund, Cummins and others would continue to raise scholarship funds for the private providers.

During the 2009 study, we also learned there are 200 4-year-old children enrolled annually in Title I pre-k through the Bartholomew Consolidated School Corp. Title I focuses on helping 4-year-old children improve their academic skills in preparation for entering kindergarten the following year. Without Title I, most of these children would have a difficult time catching-up academically. Today, children attend this program for four half-day sessions per week.

Voting “Yes” on the first question would mean:

  • Expanding the Title I program from four half-day sessions to five full-day sessions.
  • Expanding the number of pre-k seats available for the long-term through a combined public and private effort.

For $16 a year (this would be the cost for a home with the assessed value of $100,000), we will be able to serve the most vulnerable children in our community so that they may have the opportunity to be prepared for their entire educational experience, a requirement for future life success, both educationally and economically.

Please vote “Yes” on the first question on the Nov. 6 ballot.

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