Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie today announced a joint effort with Governor Cuomo to support full-day kindergarten in next year's budget for all school districts in New York that still maintain half-day programs.
"Governor Cuomo will work with the Assembly in a joint effort to provide funding for school districts to help pay for the transition to full-day kindergarten as part of next year's budget," said Speaker Heastie. "Experience has shown that full-day kindergarten gives children a head start and allows them to grow and thrive in so many ways. I want to commend my colleagues in the Majority, especially Assemblymembers James Skoufis and Ken Zebrowski, who have sponsored legislation to help school districts transition to full-day kindergarten, for their hard work in helping to make this a reality."
While the majority of New York's over 700 school districts provide full-day kindergarten, a handful of districts do not. It is imperative to provide the funding necessary so these schools can make the transition to full-day programs with little or no impact on their overall budget.
"Expanding full-day kindergarten in New York is fundamental to eliminating the educational gap and helping our students gain the confidence they need to achieve long term academic success," said Assemblymember Cathy Nolan, chair of the Education Committee. "For many children, kindergarten is their first school experience and they truly need a full day of instruction to ensure they are able to perform at grade level early on and get a head start towards literacy."
Assemblyman Kenneth Zebrowski said, "After years of advocacy for full-day kindergarten, there is finally a light at the end of the tunnel. We are thrilled to be able to announce that there will be a joint effort for our full-day kindergarten funding concept to be funded in next year's budget. There is nothing more important to a child's education than classroom time. Our statewide standards assume a full-day kindergarten program and we cannot allow a few kids and districts to fall behind at this critical period of development. Thank you to the Speaker, Governor Cuomo, and Assemblymember Nolan for working with us during this extraordinary session to make an extraordinary difference in the lives of these young New Yorkers."
Assemblyman Skoufis said, "On this momentous occasion, our state is sending a clear, unmistakable message: every single child - regardless of zip code - deserves a comprehensive kindergarten education. After years of Speaker Heastie and the Assembly leading on this issue, I am delighted we have come to an agreement with the governor to work towards funding full-day kindergarten in the remaining half-day districts, including Washingtonville and North Rockland. Ensuring all children receive the fundamental building blocks of an early education has been a top priority of mine and I am thrilled we are moving forward with this joint effort."