Niskayuna School District and JCC Launch Universal Pre-K Program – The Daily Gazette


NISKAYUNA — Parents of 50 children in the Niskayuna Central School District will have the opportunity to enroll their children in a free pre-kindergarten program at the Jewish Community Center as part of a new collaboration between the two organizations.

Final program details are expected to be approved at the April 26 school board meeting, according to district spokesman Roberto LoBianco.

However, at the Tuesday evening board meeting, members approved the CCC’s request for proposal.

“When you look at the JCC proposal; play dates designed to support students’ social and emotional skills, communication, language, literacy skills, it’s clear that this partnership really has the potential to impact our students and their families,” said said Marie Digirolamo, assistant superintendent of instruction.

The district began reviewing implementation of the program this school year after funding was approved in the 2021 state budget.

The district did not report how much it received from the 2021 budget and said the allocation for the 2022-23 budget was not yet available.

The program would follow the Niskayuna School District schedule and run from 8:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. Monday through Friday at the JCC, according to agenda materials provided by the district.

Those interested in participating in the program would complete an application and be entered into a lottery.

“If we are able to reach an agreement for the April 26 board meeting, families will have about two weeks to apply,” LoBianco said. “The lottery will take place in mid-May.”

Niskayuna families who are already participating in the JCC preschool program could apply for a place in the free preschool program.

The JCC runs an early childhood education program from 7:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. A limited number of spaces would be available in the organization’s comprehensive child care, which is offered before and after school. Childcare outside of the pre-k program would not be covered by state funding.

Transportation is not provided for the program, according to the document provided by the district.

Staff will be hired by the JCC for the program and up to two teachers and two teaching assistants could be hired, LoBianco said.

“We’re really excited to be able to serve families in a different way,” said Jennifer Chatain, JCC Early Years Director. “So traditionally people come to us and they pay us and we serve them, right? But now we’re really offering an opportunity to bring in new families that never thought of coming into the JCC and to really create a diverse community.

Journalist Shenandoah Brière can be reached at [email protected]. Follow her on Twitter at SB_DailyGazette.

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