NSCSD enters Universal Pre-K

The North Syracuse Central School District board of education meetings have been holding discussions on approving contracts for Universal Pre-Kindergarten 2009-10 school year.

The board sent out 15 requests to childcare providers within the school district. The NSCSD received proposals from the following:

* Learn as You Grow, Inc., 5484 South Bay Road and 8331 Elfa Drive, Cicero

* P.E.A.C.E., Inc., Head Start, 6221 Route 31, Cicero

* Northminster, 7444 Buckley Road, North Syracuse

* Main Street Early Education Program, 205 South Main St., North Syracuse

Superintendent of Schools Jerome F. Melvin reminded the board and all attendants to the May 11 meeting that New York State reduced the Universal Pre-K grant from $1,075,496 to $606,120. The reduction is nearly 50 percent of last year's assumed budget for the program.

The board agreed that both the Learn as You Grow, Inc., and P.E.A.C.E., Inc., Head Start met the requirements sought by the NSCSD for the program. According to Melvin, the board has recommended that the district enter into agreements for the 2009-1 school year with both childcare providers because they have a per-pupil cost that will allow the district to stay within the budget.

Learn as You Grow would provide a class size of 20 with one teacher and two teaching assistants. The cost per child is estimated at $2,262 for a total of 215 students.

Head Start will provide a class of 17 with one teacher, one teaching assistant and one classroom aide. The cost per chills is $2,715 for a total of 17 students.

There is still discussion among the board and Assistant Superintendent of Management Services Wayne Bleau because of the transportation costs for these new contracts for Universal Pre-K.

Learn as You Grow has requested that the NSCSD continue to provide transportation as it has in the past. However, Bleau stressed that because the Universal Pre-K grant amount has been decreased, providing the transportation services is unlikely. The estimated cost of transportation is $139,058, but after all educational costs are subtracted from the grant monies allotted, there would only be around $72,000 available.

Because of the shortfall, there is a real possibility that the district would not be able to provide transportation for Learn as You Grow, said Bleau. The district will work to find alternative options for transportation.

Head Start did not make any requests to the district for transportation.

The next board of education meeting is scheduled for Monday June 1.

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