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Mayor Hogsett wants to expand pre-K program

Posted at 1:13 AM, May 24, 2016
and last updated 2016-05-24 01:13:39-04

INDIANAPOLIS -- Marion County's pre-K program is so popular that more than 3,500 needy children were turned away this year.

To fix that, Mayor Joe Hogsett hopes to expand the program to every family in Indianapolis who wants to take part.

The city is currently helping to fund the program with $20 million over five years. Charitable organizations and private companies make up the rest, and the United Way administers the program and oversees the application process.

Lisa Skinner is the director of the Eastern Star Church's Early Learning Center. She says roughly 97 percent of her students attend school by way of a preschool scholarship.

"A lot of our families are high poverty rate, yet they go to school, they work … they just simply can't afford the high cost of childcare," Skinner said.

The United Way's Andre Cullen said programs like this one are important to help kids get a leg up.

"We know that ultimately starting kids off on the right foot is the way they become successful, and ultimately then to read at a reading level appropriately," Cullen said. "They're much more likely to not be placed in special education. They're more likely to graduate on time and lead long and productive lives."

City leaders are still working to determine how much money they'll request from the state for Marion County.