Monica Akey is a mother of
four who lives in Keeseville, N.Y. She says the universal prekindergarten and
after-school program for New York public schools will be a relief for her
wallet, after the cost of paying for her oldest to go to pre-K.
"My husband and I
spent two years paying out of pocket for a preschool program for him to prepare
him for kindergarten, and we want to be able to provide that same opportunity
for our other children," Akey said.
Early childhood educators
in the North Country are excited about the plan and say pre-K is critical to
the development of kids to get them on the right path to college and a career.
"Our education system
is recognizing that 4-year-old children deserve the very best early childhood
education possible," said Jamie Basiliere, the executive director of the
Child Care Coordinating Council of the North Country.
A universal pre-K and
after-school program would not only help a child's development, it would also
help parents who work full time and need somebody to look after the kids.
"We work 40-plus
hours a week to pay our bills and support our children," Akey said.
Part of N.Y. Gov. Andrew
Cuomo's budget plan puts $1.5 billion toward full-day pre-K for every school in
New York that wants it. But even with all that money, there are still financial
concerns. State Assembly member Janet Duprey says transportation is an issue in
some areas and those school districts cannot afford extra busing. Duprey also
says schools simply aren't big enough to accommodate more students, and more
classrooms would have to be built.
"It sounds like with
funding from the governor's budget there will be money for capital improvement
in schools to create space," Basiliere said.
Not all the details of the
governor's plan are worked out, but Akey is grateful for the chance to put
aside extra money for her kids' college funds, which would otherwise go to pre-K and day
"We want them to be
successful members of society when they're older. I think that it's really
important and it's going to be great and benefiting not only my family but many
families just like mine," Akey said.
Families who say they will
now have a better chance to give their child's education a good start.
New York lawmakers say the
first schools to receive universal pre-K will be schools with low-income
families and children in need.
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