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Cohoes City School District wins competitive grant to expand pre-K opportunities

October 1, 2015—Cohoes City School District has been awarded $164,209 in pre-K funding to extend the district’s existing full-day prekindergarten program to 36 more students each year, with half-year programs beginning this January. In future years, the district will be awarded $273,682 annually to sustain full-year programs.

"The research is clear," said Cohoes Superintendent Jennifer Spring. "Children who attend a high-quality pre-K program are less likely to be held back a grade, less likely to need special education and more likely to graduate from high school. We are excited about expanding our outstanding pre-K program so that all four year olds in Cohoes will have the opportunity to attend."

Cohoes’ existing Universal Prekindergarten (UPK) program is made possible through state funding, in collaboration with the Cohoes Community Center. The new grant funding will support the establishment of two additional UPK classrooms at Abram Lansing Elementary School, which houses the four existing UPK classrooms. The grant will also sustain the 36 new UPK slots in years to come, as long as state funds are available.

The current UPK program serves 72 students – approximately half of all eligible four-year-olds in the district. Student records indicate that approximately 35 current Cohoes kindergartners had no preschool experience. The new classrooms will enable the district to ensure all children in Cohoes have access to quality preschool programming that will help prepare them to enter and succeed in kindergarten and beyond.

"We are very excited for this opportunity to expand our UPK program," said Assistant Superintendent for Educational Services Peggy O'Shea. "The ongoing partnership with the Cohoes Community Center will allow us to provide enhanced educational opportunities for our youngest students, and ensure a strong and consistent program across six UPK classrooms."

The new UPK slots will be available to 4-year-old children at no charge to the participating families. Information about the registration process and timeline will be shared as soon as it is available.

Under the grant, the district will prioritize placement of students with the highest need—those who lack access to or financial means for quality preschool programming, as well as students with special needs and English Language Learners.

The district will also focus on strengthening preschool-kindergarten transition activities for all students to support kindergarten readiness. A part-time parent liaison will be hired to help improve school attendance in pre-K and kindergarten classrooms. The parent liaison will be charged with building positive school-family relationships, increase parent involvement in the school community and help parents best support student learning at home.

Cohoes was one of 34 school districts statewide that were collectively awarded $30 million in Expanded Prekindergarten for Three- and Four-Year Old Students in High-Need School Districts grants from the New York State Education Department. The awards are preliminary, pending the review and approval of the New York State Comptroller.

The grant was written in cooperation with the Capital Region BOCES Grants and Development Service.

Learn more about Cohoes UPK>>>