Syracuse-area advocates of universal pre-kindergarten want lawmakers to include it in the state budget expected to be approved in Albany in the next ten days. Supporters crystallized their argument for pre-K at a news conference at Delaware School on Syracuse’s west side Thursday.
The call to include universal pre-K in the state budget came from business leaders, like Centerstate CEO president Rob Simpson
"Our future workforce depends on our ability to educate young children and engage young minds, and this has to be a full community effort for it to be successful” said Simpson.
And law enforcement leaders, like Syracuse Police Chief Frank Fowler.
"It makes sense that we would invest in our young people earlier on in the process. There’s a direct correlation between the dropout rate and those who are currently sitting in our local jails,” said the police chief.
Parents like Kathleen Snyder, of Syracuse, say pre-K can help children who have special needs.
"If they need interventions, children get services much earlier,” said Snyder.
Gov. Andrew Cuomo has proposed spending $100 million next year for statewide pre-K. Budget negotiators right now in Albany are haggling over that number, as well as how to pay for it, which is the sticking point.
Syracuse Common Councilor Nader Maroun says the Syracuse City School District, needs $5 million to institute a full-day program for four year olds, and he estimates that would open up pre-K to 400 children who don’t get it now. Maroun says it makes sense to make this investment today.
“It’s like building a house, you have to start with a foundation. And then the foundation holds the house together,” said Maroun.