June 26, 2014
This fall will be the first school year since New York’s universal pre-kindergarten program took effect. But, 82 percent of school districts outside New York City are not expanding their pre-K programs this fall. Under the program, districts outside of New York City have to compete for $40 million in grants.
Jeffrey Matteson, superintendent of TST BOCES in Ithaca, says districts in his area are reluctant to do the program due to issues with budgeting and grantwriting.
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"I'm not aware of any of our local school districts in our BOCES region that applied. And that's because the application came after the budgets were set. And it's reimbursement money, so you'd have to spend the money first and hope for reimbursement in the fourth quarter of the school year... So, to have the confidence as a superintendent that you're actually going to get that reimbursement, that it's going to look the way they said it's going to look and have to move some money around to make those additional slots occur in a competitive grant process is just not realistic."
"If it's going to be done by competitive grant and not be an allocation like the rest of the aid is, then it gets tougher and tougher for schools to convince the communities to bite off a bigger chunk and to compete for that money."