YONKERS, N.Y. -- Yonkers will join the other Big Five School Districts in New York state by requiring 5-year-olds in the city to attend kindergarten.
The Yonkers state legislative delegation, including Sens. Andrea Stewart-Cousins and George Latimer and Assembly members Gary Pretlow and Shelley Mayer, sponsored and passed legislation to increase kindergarten attendance in the city. Syracuse, Buffalo, Rochester and New York City already require kindergarten attendance, and this bill, requested by the Yonkers Board of Education, allows Yonkers to do the same.
The bill awaits Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s signature to become law.
The Yonkers Board of Education requested the legislation after adopting a resolution recognizing the importance of kindergarten as part of the educational process. The resolution notes that "....enumerable studies have documented the value to children of beginning the educational process at an early age in order to prepare them for a life of learning, work and active engagement in society."
Yonkers Public Schools currently provide a full-day kindergarten program. Although there is a 91 percent attendance rate, the bill will require all 5-year-olds to attend the district's kindergarten program. The law would apply to Yonkers children who are 5 years of age on or before Dec. 1.
Exceptions are provided for parents who choose not to enroll their child until the following September and for students enrolled in nonpublic schools or receiving home instruction.
Stewart-Cousins, the Senate Democratic Conference leader, said, “As a strong supporter of public education and a former teacher, I recognize how important it is for children to start with a solid foundation for learning at an early age, and this kindergarten attendance requirement is a step in the right direction.”
“Educating our children should always be our top priority,” said Pretlow. “ It is imperative that we continue to create opportunities that will provide each and every child with a strong educational foundation starting at an early age that will have a lasting impact on their development and accomplishments throughout their school years.”
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