By: Liz Gelardi
INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. – Mayor Greg Ballard toured an elementary school to promote the public safety plan he introduced last week. The plan calls for up to $50 million to fund early childhood education.
Mayor Ballard joined IPS Superintendent Dr. Lewis Ferebee for a classroom visit. They walked around the brightly colored hallways and stopped in a room full of energetic preschoolers. The mayor’s plan stresses preschool as a way to reach kids early on, with the goal of keeping them on the right path later in life.
“I think it’s very important that we try to reach every at-risk kid in the city that we possibly can,” said Mayor Greg Ballard.
The preschool program would give out scholarships to 1,300 children per year. The mayor has proposed paying for it by eliminating the homestead tax credit. City finance officials said eliminating the tax credit would free up $25 million. Critics worry getting rid of the credit will take money away from schools.
The United Way would manage the program and seek matching funds for every dollar spent, bringing the total up to $50 million. The money would be spent over five years.
“We also know that many of our students enter kindergarten behind and so anything that we can do to ensure that we’re building those skills especially prepare students to be reading on grade level by grade three, we believe is a sound investment,” Dr. Lewis Ferebee, IPS Superintendent.
Recent violence has intensified calls to address crime in Indianapolis. Mayor Ballard’s plan also proposed hiring 280 police officers by raising the public safety tax. FOX59’s Liz Gelardi asked the mayor how his overall plan addresses crime now.
“We are addressing crime now, I don’t think there’s much question about that. The police have been doing a great job, the technology they’re using, the data that they’re using is very strong. They know exactly who they want to go after so all that is happening as we speak,” said Mayor Ballard.