The West Genesee School District is working to establish an early childhood education initiative that introduces young learners to the school environment.
Superintendent David Bills detailed the process for the Board of Education at its regular meeting on March 2, 2022.
In conjunction with school-based Universal Pre-Kindergarten (UPK) classrooms, the District is seeking a partnership with one or more community-based organizations to provide a full-day UPK program for four-year-old children who reside within West Genesee boundaries. The District is soliciting proposals from qualified providers in a request for proposals (RFP) issued February 28. The deadline for organizations to submit a response to the RFP is March 21.
UPK is a state-funded program that focuses on intellectually, socially and emotionally preparing children for kindergarten. The District hopes to launch its pre-K program with the start of the 2022-23 school year.
The District issued an RFP to find a community organization willing to operate the pre-K program because the District does not have the building capacity to host all of the classes in house. The District also anticipates some families may wish to utilize family-funded before and after school daycare with the selected community-based organizations.
“We are excited at the prospect of beginning a Universal Pre-Kindergarten program for our community,” Superintendent Bills said. “Providing students with additional opportunity and an environment that nurtures social development, creativity, and school readiness will help children thrive in school and beyond.”
How will the District pay for pre-K?
With the passing of the most recent New York state budget, additional funding has been allocated to all New York State districts to expand or establish pre-K programs. Because West Genesee does not have an existing program, it is receiving $598,000 in state funds to establish one.
New York State has again included funding for this program in the 2022-23 Executive Budget proposal.
Who is eligible to attend pre-K?
The program is open to all children who reside within the District’s boundaries and are four years old on or before December 1, 2022. Children who turn five years old before December 1, 2022 are not eligible for a UPK seat. Families are encouraged to register these children for Kindergarten.
The District plans to offer 107 seats, but enrollment capacity will depend on where the program is hosted. If there are more eligible applicants than can be served in a given school year, the District will employ a lottery system to determine who attends the program.
More information about the program will be shared on the District’s website once logistics and a registration process are established.