Schuyler Center, as part of Winning Beginning NY, the state’s leading coalition for early care and learning, calls on Governor Cuomo to stand by his word and put New York on track toward universal Pre-K. Recent media reports regarding budget negotiations suggest the final budget may allow Pre-K funds to be used for other purposes and that the Governor suggested that school districts would have to spend the money first and get reimbursed later. This is unacceptable—school districts simply do not have the fiscal capacity to spend first and get reimbursed later. The Governor must insist that Pre-K funding be preserved for Pre-K in the final state budget and that all districts can access funding once they are ready.
Just two months ago, Governor Cuomo said, “…we believe in children, we believe in Pre-K, we believe in education, let’s put our money where our mouth is and let’s make it a reality.” With fewer than half of eligible four-year-olds enrolled statewide, it is critical to protect current funding and new investment for Pre-K. If the Governor allows Pre-K funding to be used for anything other than the expansion of full-day high quality Pre-K, he will be backtracking on his promise. School districts that serve some of our poorest communities and would benefit from Pre-K the most don’t have the funds to implement a Pre-K program without the state money the Governor promised. As the Governor said when he met with upstate mayors, four-year-olds in Syracuse and Buffalo are just as deserving of Pre-K as children in New York City; it is up to him to make sure that happens.
Early care and learning advocates statewide are calling on the Governor to keep his promise to universal Pre-K statewide and ensure all four-year-olds get the same support from the State.
“In a perfect world, New York State would fund Pre-K through 12 fully and fairly and low-income districts would not be left behind,” said Kate Breslin, CEO of the Schuyler Center for Analysis and Advocacy. “Unfortunately, we don’t live in that world yet. It’s time for New York’s leaders to catch up with the science on brain development and focus on getting all kids into high quality full-day Pre-K. The Governor’s suggestion about requiring fiscally troubled school districts to pay upfront for Pre-K and get reimbursed later is illusory; many schools are flat out broke.” …
Download the entire March 26, 2014 press release.