Indianapolis Mayor Invests $25M in Early Childhood Education

As part of Indianapolis Mayor Greg Ballard’s plan to boost public safety, $25 million in funding will be allocated for early childhood education. He hopes that the investment in early childhood education will curb the dropout rate.

Vanessa McClure from Fox News reports that the mayor’s plan focuses on three P’s: Prevention, Protection and Punishment.

The actions he is taking to support these areas include hiring 280 police officers, changing the city’s curfew ordinance, launching a regional heroin awareness campaign, and urging the state to enact a minimum 20-year sentence for criminals who use guns.

“There is a shared recognition that education is the key to a positive future for individual students, their families, their neighborhoods, and our city’s social and economic vitality,” stated a report prepared by Ballard’s staff on the preschool program. “However, we have yet to fulfill this promise for our children and city.”

Under Ballard’s five-year plan, the city would contribute $25 million through a flexible grant to the United Way of Central Indiana. He plans for that money to be matched by existing federal and state programs as well as private fund raising in order to reach a goal of $50 million in funding to pay for preschool for around 1,300 low-income 4-year-olds annually, reports J.K. Wall for the Indianapolis Business Journal. 

Ballard hopes to cover the city’s annual $5 million contribution by eliminating the homestead tax credit in Marion County. Doing this would produce around $7.5 million in addition revenue, the remainder of which, after contributing to early education, would go to help pay the new police officers. By doing this, the average homeowner will have to pay an additional $1.84/month on top of an extra $5.32/month that comes with this proposal to increase the safety income tax.

In addition to the scholarship program that will help families that make less than $44,000 annually, Indianapolis will devote $10 million of the funds to help launch higher quality preschools and aid others in improving their rankings, writes Hayleigh Colombo for Chalkbeat Indiana.

Marion County has close to 800 licensed preschool, but the majority of them are rated poorly. Only 15% are currently ranked high enough to meet the standards of the mayor’s new program.

Ted Maple, president and CEO of the Day Nursery Association, writes about his high hopes for the program in the Indy Star. Day Nursery is proud that more than 90% of children that leave their classrooms are kindergarten ready, benefiting hundreds of kids annually. With Ballard’s new plan an education at Day Nursery or comparable programs will be assessable to thousands more children.

We want safe streets, successful students and a stable and educated workforce. We want a world-class city. Preschool is one critical way to help us achieve these goals. As a citizen of Indianapolis and longtime early childhood advocate, I am thrilled to see this watershed commitment to our youngest children and their families and excited for our future.