Local community puts pre-K issue on the ballot

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COLUMBUS, Ind. (Oct. 13, 2014) – It’s been a hot topic of debate across the state and also in Indianapolis, but in another local city, the issue of pre-K is actually on the ballot this fall.

Voters in Columbus will decide next month on a seven-year tax levy to pay for 450 pre-school scholarships, to pay for early childhood education for disadvantaged families in the school district.

If the referendum is approved, it would cost about $32 a year for the owner of a $150,000 home, according to information posted by the Bartholomew Consolidated School Corporation.

“This particular referendum is focused towards those children that are at risk,” said Dave Barker, who is part of the Pre-K 4 All Committee. “It will provide funding for all children in our community who happen to belong to a family eligible for lunch assistance.”

But it’s not the first time the issue has been on the ballot- a similar levy was voted down two years ago.

“We’ve supported it and we want it to pass so we have a firm foothold for the future,” said Barker.

This week it’s fall break, so parents in Columbus are out with their kids. Some aren’t so sure about the pre-K referendum, but Sarah Gribbins says she likes the idea.

“I would hope that it passes,” she said. “(Kids) need to have their pre-reading skills like their letters, sounds, and numbers to be ready to go for kindergarten.”

“If we have to pay the tax and it goes through then we’ll definitely take advantage of it,” said parent Scott Mathis. “But for people who don’t have kids, I’m not sure it’s a fair extra tax to be placed upon people in our community.”

“This impacts our workforce,” said Barker. “Maybe not now, but in the future.”

Voters will decide on the referendum November 4.

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