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Kindergarten could be cut in poor, rural districts | Schools

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Kindergarten could be cut in poor, rural districts
Schools

JOHNSTOWN -  Kindergartener Antonio Priano and his classmates drew pictures of their homes on Wednesday.

"This my bed," he pointed..."and that's me."

But next year's kindergarten class at the Broadalbin-Perth Central School District may have to spend more time at home, if state aid cuts force the District to go from a full day to a half day kindergarten.

"If we go to half day, something's going to have to give. And we can't have it be the academics but because they're four and five years old, they need to have that chance to play," said their teacher Megan Floyd.

Educators from Broadalbin-Perth joined with other districts in Hamilton, Montgomery and Fulton Counties Wednesday to criticize Governor Cuomo's budget cuts, saying distribution of school aid unfairly targets poor rural districts.

"We're not asking for one more dollar in education, we're asking for those monies to be reallocated to support the children in upstate New York  that have to abide by the same learning standards as children in downstate New York.

The group says Cuomo's plan eliminates about eleven-hundred-dollars per pupil statewide but more than $1600 for each student in those three rural counties. They said that's forcing them to cut arts, music and sports programs, increase class size and consider cutting kindergarten.

In the case of Northville Central School District, the budget strain could potentially eliminate the grade altogether.

"It could be that we don't have kindergarten. Our children could come for Pre-K and then a year off. They regress and then they come back not ready for first grade," said Northville Superintendent Kathy Dougherty.

"I would love to see a legislators look at a group of five-year-olds and say, 'oh I'm sorry we don't have the money for you to go to school. you're  a big boy now but I'm sorry there's no school for you, Johnny.' It's shameful, said Northville parent Natasha Cucinella.

Besides Broadalbin-Perth, the Greater Amsterdam school district is considering the move from a full day to half day kindergarten, as well as Gloversville and Wells school districts. They want lawmakers to change the distribution of state aid so they won't have to take such drastic measures.

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