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New York State Exposed Education: Pittsford schools get full-day kindergarten with help from taxpayers

April 12, 2018 03:45 PM

Starting next year, kindergartners in Pittsford will spend the whole day in school, but all taxpayers will be helping fund the transition.

Pittsford has been trying to get full-day kindergarten for years. To do it, they needed more money from taxpayers and when local taxpayers said no, the district went to the state. Now, everyone in New York is helping pay for it. 

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The lack of full-day kindergarten has bothered people like Sarah Peluso. Her son Joseph is a kindergartner in the Pittsford School District, but he only sends half his day in class. 

"It's very important," she says, "These are their earliest years of education and the foundation of the rest of their lives." 

Pittsford had tried to override the tax cap in order to make full-day kindergarten a reality. And while a majority of voters agreed last time, a super-majority did not. So, the district and parents like Sarah tried a different approach- they flooded state lawmakers like Senator Rich Funke with calls and emails.

"It was a bit of a tough negotiation but given the parameters of the tax cap and given the parameters of how the state funds quote high-wealth districts, it became a problem for Pittsford," says Funke. 

"They were in a unique spot."

So, as part of the year's state budget negotiations, a unique solution was found. Senator Funke was able to secure more than a million dollars to help with the transition.

"They'll get 100% reimbursement the first year, 65% the next year, 35% the following year," he says, "After that they'll be able to absorb that, they'll move forward with that."

The Pittsford Superintendent, Mike Pero says the plans are already in place. 

"We've done a lot of prep ahead of time as far as curriculum is concerned and professional development for our staff," he says, "so on that, we're ready to go."

The district will be hiring eight to 10 new teachers, ordering supplies, and shifting resources. 

"We don't have to add on to classrooms or do any major capital improvements, so our capital costs will be associated with maybe extending parking lots, renovating a couple of classrooms... but nothing extensive."

And that is why Pittsford can be ready in just a few months for more little learners to spend a lot more time in school.

The only other local district without full-day kindergarten is Brighton, but voters there approved approved a capital improvement project last year that will allow the district to transition to it. The current plan, however, doesn't have it fully implemented until the 2021-2022 school year.

Credits

Jennifer Lewke

Copyright 2018 - WHEC-TV, LLC A Hubbard Broadcasting Company

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