You choose, we deliver
If you are interested in this story, you might be interested in others from The Journal Gazette. Go to and pick the subjects you care most about. We'll deliver your customized daily news report at 3 a.m. Fort Wayne time, right to your email.


  • Indiana Supreme Court to hear bus-outsourcing case
    INDIANAPOLIS – The Indiana Supreme Court is preparing to hear oral arguments in the case of an Indianapolis school district whose decision to outsource bus transportation was ruled unconstitutional.
  • Long announces Senate committee picks, new chairs
    INDIANAPOLIS – Indiana senators are getting committee assignments that will leave a handful of the chamber’s panels with new leaders heading into the legislative session.
  • Hundreds attend memorial for Indiana aid worker
    INDIANAPOLIS – An Indiana aid worker beheaded by Islamic State militants in Syria was praised for his humanitarian work Sunday during a memorial service attended by hundreds that included readings from the Bible and the Quran.

Senate panel puts pre-K bill on hold

Pence-backed proposal sent to summer study panel

– The Senate Education Committee quashed a pilot preschool program Wednesday, sending the issue of pre-kindergarten and early learning to a summer study committee.

From a practical standpoint, the change doesn’t have much effect because the bill would have created the framework of a state program, but there was never any funding attached.

At best, the five-county program would have begun in fall 2015. That could still happen under the study committee, with the legislature passing the program next year when it also crafts a new two-year state budget.

But politically, it was a severe blow to Gov. Mike Pence’s legislative agenda. He was pushing the preschool bill hard, even showing up to testify on its behalf last week.

“Gov. Pence believes every child deserves to start school ready to learn, and he believes now is the time for a voluntary pre-K program to help Indiana’s low-income kids,” spokeswoman Kara Brooks said. “The governor looks forward to continuing to work with members of the General Assembly to advance this important initiative.”

Indiana is one of only 10 states that doesn’t directly fund pre-K education. Supporters said statistics show that kids in poverty are already behind when they begin school.

House Bill 1004 originally would have used the current private school voucher system to help low-income 4-year-olds in five counties attend a preschool program. Up to 1,000 kids a year might be affected. The counties had not been identified.

Sen. Luke Kenley, R-Noblesville, offered the amendment to further study the issue. Some facets to be considered are whether federal money can be sought; rigorous accountability standards for preschool; parental involvement; what state agency should oversee the program; and the appropriate income standard to be used.

“The whole effort is to try to put this thing in a position where we can have a product worthy of our consideration if it should be funded,” he said. “It’s a step forward. It does advance the cause.”

Sen. John Broden, D-South Bend, voted yes on the bill because he didn’t want it to die before final negotiations.

“I’ll be candid in stating I had hoped we would move further with the Senate bill,” he said. “Maybe additional strides can be made in conference committee. I don’t want the bill to meet a negative fate at this point.”

House Republicans have pushed the program for several years and now have Pence behind the proposal as well.

The discussion is far from over. Because the pilot passed the House, it is eligible to be revived later in conference committee when final negotiations occur between the House and the Senate.