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City-County Council approves pre-K funding plan

INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) – The Indianapolis City-County Council approved a $4.2 million plan to offer a pre-K program in Indianapolis.

The plan establishes a scholarship program to provide early education to needy children.

Mayor Greg Ballard has described the pre-K plan as part of a “holistic” approach to fighting crime in Indianapolis.

The concept has skeptics on the council. The vote was 19-10. One critic asked how helping three and four-year olds will help make Indianapolis safer.

In an interview with 24-Hour News 8, Mayor Ballard acknowledged that it will be a long time before there’s a pay-off to early education programs.

“But,” he said, “they’re here now. What ware we doing now to help that kid, to make sure he stays on the straight and narrow?”

Becky Aldrich, a pre-K teacher at Daystar Child Care in Indianapolis, told 24-Hour News 8 the children who receive these scholarships often come from homes where they receive little parental attention or just fulfillment of their basic needs.

“Maybe we can fill that gap. Fill that need when the parents are not able or they’re struggling with so many other things that their involvement with their kids is limited,” Aldrich said.

Ballard said the challenges of crime in Indianapolis require more than just adding officers to IMPD.

“We need to balance this out a little bit more. We’re going to put more officers on the street.” But, he also said the city “can’t ignore” the other problems that produce 1800 drop-outs in Indianapolis every year. “They’re just floating. You can’t ignore that. And we have been.”

After Monday night’s vote, Mayor Ballard released a statement.

“Tonight’s vote is a perfect example of the progress that is made when all parties work together to do what’s best for our city,” Mayor Ballard said. “Thanks to the priority this issue has been given, thousands of Indianapolis children will have access to high-quality preschool that will provide a solid start in their education. We would not be here without our generous corporate and philanthropic partners who share in our commitment to creating opportunity for every child.”