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Pre-K to be funded by state

Freeport is only district on L.I. to receive support from Albany

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The Freeport School District was one of 26 districts in the state awarded funding by Gov. Andrew Cuomo to support their pre-kindergarten programs on Dec. 18. Freeport’s pre-K program is expected to receive just under $750,000. It was the only Long Island program to receive the funding, according to school officials.

District Superintendent Dr. Kishore Kuncham said that the grant would be used to extend full-day pre-K services to 90 students — roughly a third of the children in the program — who had previously received half-day services. 

“We’re delighted to receive this competitive state pre-K expansion grant,” Kuncham said. “Freeport Schools has a strong focus on educating the whole child, beginning with our pre-K students.”

State Assemblywoman Judy Griffin, a Democrat from Rockville Centre, 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.

According to Cuomo’s office, the funding was awarded to school districts based on the quality of their applications and other factors that address the district’s and students’ needs. The grant funding targets districts with the highest-need students in an effort to maximize the number of students in pre-K programs.

“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,” Cuomo said in a statement.

“We know early-childhood education is important to building a strong foundation for our students to be successful through high school,” Kuncham said, “by developing [them] socially, emotionally, cognitively and physically.”

The grant includes money for pre-K programming for 4-year-olds. According to the governor’s office, the state began providing funding for pre-K for 4-year-olds in 2013, and for 3-year-olds in 2015. The state now awards $840 million annually for pre-K programming, providing 120,000 3- and 4-year-old students with services at no cost to families, the governor’s office said.

“Incredible work is being done across New York to increase opportunities for critical early education for our youngest learners,” Board of Regents Chancellor Betty Rosa said. 

“Early-childhood programs, pre-K in particular,” interim State Education Commissioner Shannon Tahoe said, “support student outcomes in later grades by giving our youngest learners a great start.”