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The Gamble of Pre-K: What advocates say needs to change for more accessible early education

todayMarch 31, 2024 2

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ROCHESTER, N.Y. (WROC) — Many families have started to get their notice on whether their child will be accepted in the Pre-K lottery for this upcoming fall.

While more districts are getting closer to having nearly all families in, organizations at home are still pushing for more from the state to be able to offer that early education to all.

Lynn Mordenga is a Rochester mom who we’ve talked to before about finding the right childcare in Rochester. With her son Timothy starting Pre-K in the Fall, News 8 caught up with her to hear what the process was like.

“As a parent, it’s kind of hard narrowing down which, which Pre-K schools to go with,” Mordenga said.

Mordenga says when it came time to decide which Pre-K services were best for her son, she was met with a lot of choices.

“We originally were looking at school-based, because we wanted to eventually continue on in the same school, unfortunately, because he’s still getting his services and therapists, we want to keep with the consistency of the same therapist,” Mordenga said.

And with what RCSD offers, Timothy was approved to attend a full-day Pre-K program this Fall.

“You want them to have the right quality care, with teachers and in a warm environment and caring and a good curriculum,” Mordenga said.

But those outside of the City School District may have a tougher challenge. A lot of suburban districts do not have enough classrooms built for all the families who could be applying.

“When that happens, you will have a lottery, you will have a certain number of seats that are available. And if it’s oversubscribed, they run a random lottery. And if you get in, you get a slot.”

Eamonn Scanlon with Rochester’s The Children’s Agenda says there are some suburban districts in Rochester that have chosen not​ to add Pre-K on. Some of the reasons being: cost, or physical space.

“Most school districts would have to increase their, you know, property Levy, they’d have to have a higher tax to support it, because the State may not give them a grant amount that would fully cover the cost. So, there’s that financial component,” Scanlon said.

New York State uses an algorithm to calculate how much funding it will offer districts called Formula Aid.

A study by The Children’s Agenda from Fall 2023 found district finances as one of the driving forces behind a lack of buy-in.

“And so that’s a real deterrent, to expand or to get into the program,” Scanlon said. “And that is also a threat to the program, or pre-K programs long term. Because districts have to use the same amount of dollars to deliver the same services when you have rising costs.”

The Children’s Agenda suggests the state has to work with other districts to make sure that they want to buy into the program. While this is something the State can’t force districts to do its a recommended path to make buy-in make sense.

​ ROCHESTER, N.Y. (WROC) — Many families have started to get their notice on whether their child will be accepted in the Pre-K lottery for this upcoming fall.

While more districts are getting closer to having nearly all families in, organizations at home are still pushing for more from the state to be able to offer that early education to all.

Lynn Mordenga is a Rochester mom who we’ve talked to before about finding the right childcare in Rochester. With her son Timothy starting Pre-K in the Fall, News 8 caught up with her to hear what the process was like.

“As a parent, it’s kind of hard narrowing down which, which Pre-K schools to go with,” Mordenga said.

Mordenga says when it came time to decide which Pre-K services were best for her son, she was met with a lot of choices.

“We originally were looking at school-based, because we wanted to eventually continue on in the same school, unfortunately, because he’s still getting his services and therapists, we want to keep with the consistency of the same therapist,” Mordenga said.

And with what RCSD offers, Timothy was approved to attend a full-day Pre-K program this Fall.

“You want them to have the right quality care, with teachers and in a warm environment and caring and a good curriculum,” Mordenga said.

But those outside of the City School District may have a tougher challenge. A lot of suburban districts do not have enough classrooms built for all the families who could be applying.

“When that happens, you will have a lottery, you will have a certain number of seats that are available. And if it’s oversubscribed, they run a random lottery. And if you get in, you get a slot.”

Eamonn Scanlon with Rochester’s The Children’s Agenda says there are some suburban districts in Rochester that have chosen not​ to add Pre-K on. Some of the reasons being: cost, or physical space.

“Most school districts would have to increase their, you know, property Levy, they’d have to have a higher tax to support it, because the State may not give them a grant amount that would fully cover the cost. So, there’s that financial component,” Scanlon said.

New York State uses an algorithm to calculate how much funding it will offer districts called Formula Aid.

A study by The Children’s Agenda from Fall 2023 found district finances as one of the driving forces behind a lack of buy-in.

“And so that’s a real deterrent, to expand or to get into the program,” Scanlon said. “And that is also a threat to the program, or pre-K programs long term. Because districts have to use the same amount of dollars to deliver the same services when you have rising costs.”

The Children’s Agenda suggests the state has to work with other districts to make sure that they want to buy into the program. While this is something the State can’t force districts to do its a recommended path to make buy-in make sense. Read More EducationRochesterFirst  

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