The Cheektowaga Central School District will offer half-day universal pre-kindergarten beginning in September, provided the state comes through with the money.
School board members Tuesday discussed the program, which would be open to district children who will be four years old on or before Dec. 1.
Classes would be 2.5 hours in the morning or afternoon and take place at either Union East Elementary School or Mary Queen of Angels School. Buses will be provided, but pupils must be 4 by Sept. 3 to ride the bus, meaning parents would be responsible for transportation until their child’s fourth birthday.
A lottery for admission into the program is required, and applications are available through April 23 in the central office of Cheektowaga Central High School, 3600 Union Road, and on the district website at www.cheektowagacentral.org.
The lottery draw will take place April 24, and registration packets will be available for selected students April 28. Parents may call 686-3616 for more information.
The program is dependent upon funding being included in the state’s final budget, district officials said.
Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo indicated that funding may also be available for full-day pre-kindergarten, and if this money becomes available, parents will be notified if the program can be expanded, officials added.
Also during the meeting, board members received a preliminary look at the 2014-15 budget. At first glance, rising salaries, health care costs and retirement costs, along with the gap elimination adjustment, are contributing to a $610,814 budget deficit. It’s a hole that District Treasurer Kaitlyn Tokarczyk feels the district can plug as officials work through the budgeting process.
“It’s bridgeable,” she said.
The state has proposed a nearly $1.4 million gap elimination adjustment, Tokarczyk reported. Salaries will increase by $950,000, health care by $289,000 and retirement costs by $156,000, she added.
To close the budget deficit, Tokarczyk said the district will concentrate on staff reductions through attrition, restructuring buildings and grounds for more efficient use, long-term planning and hoping that additional state aid is received.
The board has budget work sessions slated for 7 p.m. Tuesdays, March 18 and 25, in the boardroom at the high school. The next regular meeting will be at 7 p.m. April 8, in the same location.