Several area school districts will be able to expand their prekindergarten programs because of state grants that aim to support early education programs for high-needs children, officials said Friday.
The Buffalo Public Schools will receive $741,220 for programs for the remainder of the school year. That amount will grow to $1.2 million next year if the district’s program meets state performance standards, according to the state Education Department.
The Jamestown and Lockport school districts will receive $661,380 and $73,440, respectively, this year. The districts’ grants will increase to $1.1 million and $146,900, respectively, next year.
Research consistently shows children who participate in prekindergarten programs do better when they enter kindergarten and often throughout their academic careers. That is especially true for children from low-income backgrounds, many of whom are exposed to fewer words and less time reading than their more affluent peers.
The state allocated $25 million for the prekindergarten programs, and school districts could apply for up to 40 percent of that amount.
In Buffalo, the grant will add about 125 seats to existing prekindergarten programs. The district will also be able to add four new full-day programs that will each serve 18 students.
“This is great news for families in the City of Buffalo,” said State Sen. Mark Grisanti, R-Buffalo. “Studies have overwhelmingly showed that the first few years of a child’s life are critical for their cognitive development and learning. If we can expose children to education early on, then these children have a better chance for success in their later years of education.”