Indiana legislation to watch: After-school funding bill

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By Lynn Sygiel, editor, Charitable Advisors

Last year, 11 percent of Indiana young people took part in after-school programming. That is below the national average of 18 percent.

While before- and after-school programs serve nearly 45,000 Indiana children each day, they often operate with limited and patchwork funding from diverse public and private sources.

But that may be changing.

In the 2016 legislative session, Sen. Dennis Kruse, R-Auburn, authored Senate Bill 251, the Out-of-School Learning Fund, to create a fund to give schools grants to pay for programs before and after school and create an advisory board to make recommendations about the fund to the Indiana Department of Education.

The bill was sponsored by Rep. Robert Behning, R-Indianapolis, Rep. Vernon Smith, D-Gary, and Rep. Woody Burton, R-Whiteland.

The bill passed both chambers and was signed by Gov. Mike Pence. It established an out-of-school learning advisory board for a three-year period. The advisory board is required to make an initial report on existing programs and recommends policies, procedures, funding levels and eligibility criteria to the General Assembly before Nov. 1.

“The after-school topic got on the agenda last year in the legislature, and the education committee under the guidance of Senator Dennis Kruse for the first time said, ‘Hey, let’s take a look at after-school education,’” said Bob Abrams, Indiana’s After-School Network STEM coordinator.

“Where it’s going to lead in this budget year, I don’t know, but for the first time, it was discussed,” said Abrams. “There are states around the country – Oregon, California and Maryland — where after-school programming is a line item in their state budget.”

“I’d say that for the initial foray into the legislature, it went really well,” said Paul Ainslie, managing director of I-STEM based at Purdue University.

“It isn’t just STEM. In fact most of it is really safety and security for kids after school. We don’t have that many kids in after-school programs, and quite frankly, there’s a lot of kids at risk because of that during that 3 to 6 p.m. after-school time.

“So I think that’s part of what’s being recognized,” he said.

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