Hyde Park to get $1.46 million for preschool program

The Hyde Park Central School District is set to receive $1,462,768 in full-day pre-kindergarten funding from the state.

According to a news release from Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s office last week, the state is doling out $340 million to 81 school districts and community-based organizations statewide to open full-day classroom slots to nearly 37,000 children.

Hyde Park is the only Dutchess County recipient of the award. The district’s Assistant Superintendent for Instruction & Personnel Cora Stempel told the Observer that the $1.46 million will provide approximately 120 children with full day pre-school programming for the 2014-2015 school year.

“We are thrilled to make this free program available to local families in need. Research is clear that the provision of pre-school programs greatly supports students’ successful transition to elementary school and later school performance,” Stempel said.

The funding, included in the 2014-15 state budget, is the first installment as part of the state’s commitment to invest $1.5 billion over five years to build a statewide Universal Full-Day Pre-Kindergarten program, which is designed to incentivize innovation and encourage creativity through competition, the governor’s news release said.

“Training and educating young minds is one of the smartest investments we can make as a state, as studies demonstrate that pre-kindergarten has a long-lasting, positive influence on our children’s education and future success,” Cuomo said in the news release, noting that the funding will make New York only the fourth state in the country to establish universal full-day pre-K.

The program is expected to result in new full-day pre-kindergarten placements and convert existing half-day placements to full-day placements that meet new program requirements. All grantees will be required to demonstrate quality program standards — ensuring high quality early care and education.

In Hyde Park, Stempel said the program will result in a collaboration with two local partners: Abilities First, a local nonprofit organization that serves children with disabilities, will host four classes at Hyde Park Elementary School. The Archdiocese of New York will hold classes at Regina Coeli and St. Peter’s schools.

Priority in awarding slots for all of these classes will be given to families eligible for free/reduced lunch. Information on how parents can apply for slots will be made available through the school district as early as next week, and classes are expected to start in October.

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