The two school districts in Bartholomew County today will receive nearly $2.3 million combined in state funds to support their full-day kindergarten programs.
While Bartholomew Consolidated School Corp. and Flat Rock-Hawcreek School Corp. report healthy participation in their full-day kindergarten programs, the current state funding doesn’t fully cover the cost of a kindergarten student, the districts’ superintendents said.
That could be rectified by the Indiana General Assembly with a change to the student funding formula, they said. The legislature’s next session begins in January.
Kindergartners are funded at half the rate as students in Grades 1-12 in the state budget. The Full Day Kindergarten Grant program helps offset that shortfall.
“What we want is the legislature to recognize kindergartners as a full kid,” Bartholomew Superintendent John Quick said.
That would overcome shortfalls for funding kindergarten programs and eliminate the need for a supplemental grant.
This year, the supplemental grant program is paying $189.8 million to 338 public school corporations. Schools receive $2,400 per student from the grant money.
Quick said the grant money combined with the state budget funding provides about $5,000 per kindergartener this year — about $200 less than its students in Grades 1-12. Last year it combined for about $3,600.
Flat Rock-Haw Creek Superintendent Kathy Griffey estimated a $300 difference between its kindergartners and its students in Grades 1-12.
Previously, a set amount of money in the grant program was divided among the schools, said Stephanie Sample, a spokeswoman for the Indiana Department of Education. Last year, the grant program distributed $81.9 million to schools.
The total amounts schools are receiving this year is based on a student count performed one day in September. BCSC is receiving $2,073,600, while Flat Rock-Hawcreek School Corp. is getting $189,600.
“It was a welcome addition to the funding we get for kindergarten students,” Griffey said.
The stipulation for receiving the money is that the schools cannot charge families for students attending kindergarten all day.
Last year, BCSC charged $30 weekly per student for families who didn’t qualify for free or reduced-price lunches for their students.
Griffey said that if Flat Rock-Haw Creek had to charge for full-day kindergarten, participation probably would not be as great as it is now.
The district has 82 kindergarten students this year, more than last year, Griffey said. The number of full-day kindergarten students the district had last year wasn’t immediately available.
Quick said participation in BCSC’s full-day kindergarten program is about 850 this year, which is about the same as last year.
The payments to schools today will reimburse costs to date and cover the next semester, Sample said.
Amounts that area public school corporations are being paid by the state to support their full-day kindergarten programs. The money comes from the Full Day Kindergarten Grant program. Schools receive $2,400 per full-day kindergarten student.
Bartholomew Co. $2,073,600
Flat Rock-Haw Creek $189,600
Jennings Co. $885,600
Brown Co. $326,400
Decatur Co. $340,800
Source: Indiana Department of Education