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Governor Holcomb continues push for pre-K

SOUTH BEND, Ind. -

Governor Eric Holcomb talked big goals for public schools in the state during his first visit to Michiana since the election.

The governor doubled down on the same vision for public instruction.

The same plan he touted during his 2016 election campaign.

“When I think about our workforce, I think of education and workforce, hand and glove,” said Holcomb.

Holcomb’s believes creating a skilled and ready workforce will take investment in public education.

That’s why he wants to increase funding for the state’s per-kindergarten pilot program.

“I’ll be shooting to doubling the program, so I hope that I can be persuasive and we can arrive at doubling the program at least,” he said.

On My Way Pre-K launched just two years ago in five counties.

In that time, several coalitions have formed all lobbying for more money and its expansion.

“We have over 1,800 children, four year olds, in our county who are under-served and also low income and that’s 68 percent of all four year olds in our county,” said Emily Rupchock, the Coordinator of Ready to Grow St. Joe.

Ready to Grow St. Joe partnered with St. Joseph County’s United Way to find funding for their local efforts to make early childhood education accessible to kids in the area.

“We need more financial support for pre-K, and the reality is, we need to go beyond this pilot project,” said Matt Harrington, President and CEO of United Way of St. Joseph.

That became clear after a senate committee slashed the governor’s proposal to double investment for pre-K.

He called for $10 million more dollars for the program but the committee approved only four million, and a fourth of the increase would go to homeschooling.

“We know that the best partnerships are those that involve multiple funding streams with public and private sectors,” said Rupchock. “We’re definitely disappointed by this chain of events but not defeated by any means.”

Despite that setback, the governor says he’s confident the program will grow.

“This is where we all come together and work toward an end,” said Governor Holcomb.

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