Pre-K deadline extended again, Ritz wants Pence to change his mind

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INDIANAPOLIS (Oct. 22, 2014) – The deadline to apply for federal pre-K grant money has been extended yet again, and now the controversy continues over Gov. Mike Pence’s decision not to apply for up to $80 million in federal funds.

“It was just a total shock to learn that we were not going to submit it and then when we learned there was an extension, we thought maybe he might change his mind,” said state superintendent Glena Ritz.

But the governor’s office says that’s not going to happen, even though the deadline has now been extended to Friday afternoon because of technical glitches other states were experiencing with the application process.

Pence spoke with reporters about the decision on Tuesday, and also issued the following written statement:

“While I respect the views of those who support applying for federal pre-K funding, I stand by my decision.  Federal funding does not guarantee success. This is not about the money, it’s about our children and we have an obligation to get it right.  Our administration will remain focused on the successful launch of the five county pre-K pilot program approved by the Indiana General Assembly earlier this year.”

“We must be sure we’re having our children come to school kindergarten-ready and that means pre-K is very important,” said Ritz, who visited a local elementary school on Wednesday, where she spoke with reporters.

Ritz told FOX59 she was frustrated, especially after learning about her predecessor Tony Bennett’s visit to the Statehouse on Tuesday.

“I have not spoken to the governor. The governor did not return my phone call. He had his staff call me instead,” said Ritz. “It is frustrating that the Governor might be having conversation with Dr. Bennett perhaps when he should be having conversation with me.”

The governor’s office says Pence does have a meeting scheduled with Ritz next week after the governor returns from New Hampshire, where he’ll be campaigning for other Republican candidates. The governor’s office also said that Bennett’s visit was unscheduled, and that he happened to be with a group of people that came by to meet the governor.

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