The Freeport Union Free School District received a $750,000 grant to help fund its Pre-K program on Feb. 7. The grant came through State Governor Andrew Cuomo’s commitment to award $15 million to 26 school districts in the state to support Pre-K education. The Freeport UFSD was the only district on Long Island to receive the grant, according to the state.
District officials said the grant would be used to extend Freeport’s four-year-old pre-K program, which serves about 270 students in its half-day and full-day classes at no cost to families. Superintendent of Schools Kishore Kuncham said that because of the funding, a third of the students would be able to attend the full-day classes.
“Freeport Schools has a strong focus on educating the whole child, beginning with our pre-K students,” Kuncham said. “We are proud and grateful to receive this competitive state pre-K expansion grant.”
State Assemblywoman Judy Griffin, a Democrat from Rockville Centre who represents parts of Freeport, advocated with the governor’s office to award the funding to the district, according to a spokesperson from her office. “Providing children with a high-quality pre-kindergarten program for children in need is essential, and will have a ripple effect for generations to come,” Griffin said in a statement.
The grant was awarded to school districts based on the quality of their applications and additional factors that address the student’s needs. The funding targets districts with the highest-need students to help maximize the number of students in pre-k programs. The state now offers more than $84 million annually in aid to pre-k programs, serving about 120,000 three- and four-year-olds. Cuomo hopes the additional $15 million can help more than 2,000 students in 2020.
“New York is making an unprecedented commitment to universal pre-kindergarten for children living in high-need and underserved school districts,” Cuomo said in a news release. “This funding will help ensure more children than ever before are able to attend pre-K and enjoy the proven benefits of early childhood education into adulthood.”
“Early childhood programs, Pre-K in particular, support student outcomes in later grades, by giving our youngest learners a great start,” added Shannon Tahoe, interim state education commissioner. “We are excited by the expansion of these programs statewide that increasingly offer prekindergarten students the strong start they need to succeed in school and in life.”
The selection for the district’s pre-K classes for the 2020-2021 school year will take place through a lottery system. To participate in the lottery, parents or guardians must register between Feb. 24 and April 6. Those who register after the deadline can still be placed in a class if there are any openings. Registration will take place at the district’s Central Registration Verification office, at 58 W. Seaman Ave. Registration is offered on a first-come, first-serve basis. To make an appointment, contact the office at 516-867-5254.