Greenport superintendent floats pre-K proposition for May ballot

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01/18/2014 8:00 AM |
JENNIFER GUSTAVSON | Greenport School District Superintendent Michael Comanda, left, and school board member Babette Cornine at Wednesday night's meeting.

JENNIFER GUSTAVSON | Greenport School District Superintendent Michael Comanda, right, and school board member Babette Cornine at Wednesday night’s meeting.

Greenport school officials are looking into the feasibility of putting a proposal on the May school budget ballot to create a full-day pre-K program at the elementary school.

Superintendent Michael Comanda received positive feedback from the school board during its regular meeting Wednesday night after outlining his administration’s vision.

Although the district has previously worked with SCOPE and Head Start’s pre-K programs, Mr. Comanda described SCOPE as “cost prohibitive” to many residents and questioned the longevity of Head Start given it’s current financial woes.

“We believe that early intervention is beneficial and advantageous,” he said while pitching his pre-K idea to the board. “We would have internal control over what students are learning. It’s not to say other pre-K agencies lack that. We would have greater control for what it is students are getting and how it links to our kindergarten.”

Mr. Comanda is proposing to let the community weigh in on the idea by placing it as a separate proposition on the school budget ballot in May.

As for Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s plan to fund a universal pre-K program throughout New York’s public schools, Mr. Comanda said: “If that happens, great. That’s a bonus. If it doesn’t happen, then we put it to our community.”

Mr. Comanda also discussed changing the start dates for kindergarteners. The district currently allows students to enroll in kindergarten if they are age 5 by Dec. 1. Under his pre-K plan, students would be allowed to enter into kindergarten if they are age 5 by Sept. 1.

“I don’t think you could do one without the other,” he said about linking the implementation of a new pre-K program for 4-year-olds with rolling back the kindergarten start date. “I think it would be unfair to tell parents who are anticipating 4-year-olds coming to school in September, and now all of a sudden there’s no place for them [the following year].”

Mr. Comanda is expected to give a more in-depth presentation with financial details about his pre-K proposal at the next school board meeting on Feb. 12.

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