Costs important to Pre-K push
Updated: Friday, February 7 2014, 07:05 PM EST
Rochester, N.Y. --- On Friday, school, city, and state leaders gathered at School 33 on Webster Avenue to tout the impact of a $5.9 million state grant for Pre-Kindergarten classes.
For the first time a majority of Rochester four year-olds are receiving full-day Pre-K, about 70 percent of the total enrollment. Since October 2013, more than 800 students transitioned from half-day Pre-K to a full-day schedule and credit for that goes to that grant, the largest of all the state awards.
"For my daughter to pick up a book and sit her two year-old sister down and just turn the pages and read it's great, it's great that it's being reinforced at school and here,” said Rochelle Hayes, a mother of two Pre-K students at School 33. "With my 4 year-old…she comes home and she still wants to keep going. So when the day's over with it's kind of a disappointment.”
The impact of Pre-K on a child’s education is well documented and thanks to this grant the Rochester City School District is confident it can provide classes for all youngsters who enroll.
"What we need more so than anything else is we want people busting down the doors to try to get into Pre-K,” said Rochester City School Board Member Malik Evans. “So we're not even concerned about capacity right now, we want people to apply, apply, and apply and then from there we'll worry about getting all the seats there.”
To apply, parents can contact the Rochester Central School District Office at 585-262-8100
The debate over Pre-K in Albany is much more complicated because of funding. New York State Governor Andrew Cuomo has made Universal Pre-K statewide one of his legislative priorities this year.
But critics, in fact even supporters, of the Governor’s proposal say that money is a big obstacle.
The Governor’s initial proposal is about $1.5 billion over five years to fund Universal Pre-K and he projects a “phasing in” of the programs.
However, New York City Mayor Bill DeBlasio has said he expects costs of implementing these programs in his city alone could exceed $1.7 billion over five years. Many rural school districts in Upstate New York are fighting to keep funding for Kindergarten.
In Monroe County, eight school districts do not offer Pre-K of any kind and four districts do not offer full-day Kindergarten, according to the Monroe County School Boards Association.
“I'm virtually certain that when we conclude our budget negotiations in March we're going to have Universal Pre-K,” said Assembly Majority Leader Joe Morelle (D, Irondequoit). "In the not too distant future we won't refer to education as K-through-twelve as we have for generations, we will refer to it as Pre-K through twelve.”