East Ramapo school district got a boost in pre-kindergarten funding from the state.
The district was the only Lower Hudson Valley school system to see an increase in funding for a resource that remains much in demand outside New York City.
The $409,648 awarded to East Ramapo was part of $15 million given to 26 districts. Gov. Andrew Cuomo said the extra funding will provide about 2,000 more pre-K slots for 3- and 4-year-olds statewide.
Assemblywoman Ellen Jaffee, chair of the Committee on Children and Families, lauded the added East Ramapo funding. More pre-K students will get “the opportunity to be in an environment where they can learn, gain social skills, and begin building the foundation to a better future,” the Suffern Democrat said.
The funding targeted districts with high-need students, according to the governor.
The state now invests $840 million annually in its universal pre-K program that serves 120,000 young children, according to the governor’s office. The program is free.
Assembly Democrats, including Jaffee, have been demanding more access to pre-K for children who live outside New York City.
“While more work is always needed to address the inequity in education, and access to pre-K programs, this is a step in the right direction,” Jaffee said of the East Ramapo increase.
Pre-Kindergarten in New York has been concentrated in New York City, where about 90% of 4-year-olds attend full-day programs. Outside of New York City, only 36% of the state’s nearly 700 school districts offered full-day pre-K as of 2016-17, according to state Education Department records.
Outside NYC, school districts offer a range of half-day and full-day pre-K programs. Funding levels can change year to year.
East Ramapo’s program serves children who will be 4 years old by Dec. 1 of the upcoming academic year. The program offers half-day (2 1/2 hour) classes, with a limited number of full-day (5 hour) classes.
“New York is making an unprecedented commitment to universal pre-kindergarten for children living in high-need and underserved school districts,” Cuomo said in a statement. “This funding will help ensure more children than ever before are able to attend pre-K and enjoy the proven benefits of early childhood education into adulthood.”
Research shows greater academic success for children to have access to quality pre-kindergarten programs.
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