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May 27, 2021: District explores offering prekindergarten

Jamesville-DeWitt Central School District officials are anticipating that the district may be able to offer a full-day universal prekindergarten program for four-year-olds during the 2021-22 school year. 

“This is really a wonderful opportunity for the school district to expand its mission to include our community’s youngest children and give them a solid foundation on which to begin their educational careers,” J-D Superintendent Peter Smith said. 

The New York state adopted budget includes $388,800 for the district to use toward operating a full-day prekindergarten program in the 2021-22 school year. The district recently learned that the state has committed money toward the program for a total of three years via federal funding. 

Many districts, including J-D, first learned that state officials allocated the 2021-22 pre-K money when they adopted the state budget in April. Recognizing that there was not enough time to create and launch a quality program by September, and with concerns that the funds would only be available for one year, J-D administrators thought they would have to pass up the funding. 

Now, with a guarantee of multi-year funding and the flexibility to begin the program mid-year so there is enough time to develop a quality program, district officials are moving forward with investigating how and when to launch a prekindergarten program. 

“We are excited about this opportunity. The district offering a prekindergarten program has been something we know the board of education, our administrators and our families have long been interested in,” Smith said. “While we still have a lot of research to do, we feel like we are on a good path toward making this a reality.”

The district has been working closely with state officials and other area superintendents who are also navigating the possibility of launching pre-K programs next year. They are in the process of researching a number of issues, including transportation and whether the district has space available to house pre-K classrooms in its schools and operate the program itself or partner with a community based organization already offering a prekindergarten program that could house and run the district’s program. 

At this point, it is unclear how many students the district would be able to accommodate, but if there is a higher demand than enrollment slots, the district would utilize a lottery system to place students. 

The timing of the funding complements the district’s 2020-25 Strategic Plan, which calls for the district to determine during the 2021-22 the feasibility and appropriateness of implementing a universal pre-K program as part of the district’s efforts to support student achievement.

“We won’t have a program ready for September, but we are hopeful to begin registering students in late fall or early winter for a mid-year start,” Smith said. “As we move forward, we will continue to communicate our progress with the board and share information with the greater community via our website.”



Dr. Peter Smith, Superintendent

P.O. Box 606
DeWitt, NY 13214

Phone: (315) 445-8300

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