Indiana Senate approves preschool expansion measure

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INDIANAPOLIS — The Indiana Senate has approved a preschool expansion bill that was amended heavily to strip House language from the proposal.

Under the revamped version, new spending on the preschool pilot program amounts to $3 million, despite a request from Republican Gov. Eric Holcomb for a $10 million increase. It also sets aside $1 million for a new online preschool pilot program that offers students 15-minute daily lessons.

Senators voted 38-11 to approve the measure, which now nearly matches legislation that had advanced through the Senate earlier this session.

A floor amendment to the bill commissions a study of state students enrolled in preschool, including the state’s pilot and other, unrelated programs.

Bill on student religious freedom clears the Indiana Senate

INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. — The Indiana Senate has approved a bill on religious freedom in public and charter schools that originally included a contentious school prayer provision.

A Senate panel amended the bill last week to remove a section that would have required school districts to adopt policies creating a “limited public forum” for prayer at school activities such as assemblies and sporting events.

As written now, the bill by Democratic Rep. John Bartlett says schools may not discriminate based on religion. It also codifies existing religious rights, including those allowing religious clothing or jewelry and prayer before, during or after school.

A proposed amendment to include private schools that accept state money in the measure was rejected in the Senate panel.

The Senate voted 44-5 in favor of the bill Thursday.

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