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Will Indiana Beat the Deadline for Preschool Expansion Grant Applications?

Like a student grasping at an assignment extension, Indiana Superintendent of Instruction Glenda Ritz is urging Gov. Mike Pence to sign an application allowing the state to apply for a slice of $80 million in preschool development funds coming from the U.S. Department of Education. 

The deadline for application was Oct. 14, but the department has extended that deadline twice, and states now have until Oct. 24 to get their applications in

The Indiana Department of Education "has spent hundreds of hours working with the Family and Social Services Administration on our grant application," Ritz said in a press release. "The work is done, all the application needs now is Gov. Pence's signature. I am calling on Gov. Pence to do the right thing for Indiana's students and families and submit this grant application."

In addition to the $80 million for preschool development, which is intended for states in which preschool programs are just getting off the ground, the department has set aside $160 million for "expansion" grants, aimed at states that already have robust systems. 

Indiana, along with 29 other states and Puerto Rico, indicated its intent to apply for the federal funds. The state did so with the blessing of the governor's office, said Daniel Altman, a spokeman for the state education department. But later, Pence changed his mind, which he explained in an Oct. 21 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 programs approved by the Indiana General Assembly earlier this year." (More on the pilot program here.) 

Will Pence end up changing his mind again, allowing Indiana to slide its application in under the wire? Stay tuned for when the Education Department finally releases—barring another extension—its list of state applicants. 

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