New York City schools and agencies will receive the bulk of the $340 million universal prekindergarten funding recently announced
by Governor Andrew Cuomo. The funding is the first installment on Cuomo's promise to invest $1.5 billion over five years in a statewide program.
Eighty-one school districts applied for the funding. New York City’s Department of Education will receive nearly $300 million, leaving roughly $40 million to be divvied up between 80 districts across the state. Though the New York City school system is by far the largest in the country, some critics say that other school districts have greater need.
The Rochester City School District has already reached the maximum funding allowed by the state and has been providing universal prekindergarten for a few years. About 70 percent of the children who qualify in Rochester are enrolled in the program. (Rochester is widely known for having the highest concentration of poverty in the state and one of the highest child poverty rates in the country.)
The Fairport Central School District and the Victor Central School District will each receive $360,000. And the Gates Chili Central School District will receive $900,000. Generations Child Care in Gates will receive $174,000.
Proponents of universal prekindergarten say that research shows that children who participate in quality early childhood education have better long-term outcomes — they are more likely to read at grade level by third grade and they are more likely to stay in school and graduate on time.
But critics says that universal prekindergarten amounts to little more than government subsidized day care.