Full-day pre-K set for 2014-15

GLOVERSVILLE – District Superintendent Michael Vanyo confirmed Tuesday the Gloversville Enlarged School District will go forward with plans to adopt a full-day pre-kindergarten program for the school district, at least for the 2014-15 school year.

Vanyo announced during a special meeting Tuesday night the district decided to go forward with full-day pre-kindergarten for this year, whether or not the district receives a grant from the state.

The state budget for 2014-15 allocates $340 million for universal pre-K during each of the next two years. About $320 million will go to New York City and $20 million to the rest of the state.

The district applied for a grant to get access to this money, but has not heard a decision yet.

“A lot of districts pulled out because they have not heard anything yet,” Vanyo said.

Vanyo said the state Education Department told him the final results for the grants are expected within the next week. However, Vanyo said he and other members of the district administration met to discuss if they should go forward with the program, regardless of the grant.

According to District Treasurer Cathy Meher, the district currently receives around $393,000 for their half-day programs. Without a grant, the costs for a full-day program would rise to roughly $490,000.

The grant would give the district $1.23 million for the 2014-15 school year. A portion of the money, roughly $350,000, would be for start-up costs that would be subtracted from further money the district would receive in following years.

“My recommendation is we do it anyway. We can keep working on our budget,” Vanyo said. “I don’t like putting programs in place that we can’t sustain for the long term, but I think if we really want to make a difference, we’ve got to get our kids in school, all day, and learning. They are not coming into kindergarten at the level we need them to be at.”

Vanyo said he felt the district had a good proposal, and the district could move money around within the budget if the grant is not approved.

The district currently has three full-time pre-K teachers.

“I’m not a real big risk taker, but in this case, it is only going to benefit our kids, and we can reevaluate in a year from now,” Vanyo said.

Board of Education member Pete Semione asked if going ahead with the program would affect the district’s chances of receiving a grant. Vanyo said the district was in a position that required the program either way.

In May, Vanyo said each of the classes in the program would have 17 students participate for a combined total of 68 students, who would be randomly selected in a lottery drawing.

The district has been offering half-day pre-K programs for a number of years in the district. Some of the students come in the morning, and another class attends in the afternoon. Local private and federal agencies provide Head Start programs for younger students in the district.