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Feds extend preschool grant deadline to Friday (updated)

Preschoolers at Shepherd Community Center.
Preschoolers at Shepherd Community Center.
Scott Elliott / Chalkbeat

The U.S. Departments of Education have again extended the deadline for states to apply for the preschool development grants. The applications are now due Friday.

But Gov. Mike Pence so far hasn’t budget from his position that the state should not use the second chance to submit a grant application for up to $80 million in federal grant money to support preschool.

The U.S. Departments of Education announced Tuesday that it extended the deadline for 16 eligible states to submit for the grant — which would help build an infrastructure for preschool in Indiana — because of technical difficulties with its website.

But as the new Wednesday afternoon new deadline approached, Pence stuck to his plan to skip out on the preschool grant because he feared “federal intrusion” into Indiana’s fledgling preschool pilot program.

“The decision has been made,” said Christy Denault, Pence’s spokeswoman, on Wednesday afternoon, referring Chalkbeat to a statement the governor made Tuesday afternoon standing by his decision.

Now he’ll get more time to think it over.

Pence’s last-minute decision last week not to apply for the grant sent shockwaves through the state’s early education community while tea party and anti-Common Core groups cheered his decision.

“Federal funding does not guarantee success,” Pence said in a statement issued on Tuesday. “This is not about the money, it’s about our children and we have an obligation to get it right.”

State Superintendent Glenda Ritz told reporters after a visit this morning to Warren Township’s Eastridge Elementary School, that she hoped Pence would reconsider. She said he had not returned her phone call asking to talk about the issue, but spoke only to members of his staff.

“I contacted the governor yesterday hoping I could have a conversation with him,” Ritz said. “Instead, I received a staff phone call. To be quite honest, we’ve worked on this for two months now. When we learned there was an extension, we thought maybe he’d change his mind. I feel like the committee that worked so hard on this … really don’t have clear answers. We don’t understand why we didn’t submit the grant.”

(For more reaction over the last week to Pence’s decision, read Chalkbeat’s roundup.)

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