State lawmakers go to school on opening day

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Assemblyman Zebrowski meets school children on their first day
at West Haverstraw Elementary

WEST HAVERSTRAW – State Assembly members Kenneth Zebrowski and
James Skoufis visited West Haverstraw Elementary School this Tuesday to
greet students on their first day of the new school year. Joined by State
Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie, the lawmakers celebrated the first day
of full-time kindergarten in the school’s history.

West Haverstraw was among the five public elementary schools in New York
State that did not offer full-time kindergarten. Due to budget constraints
West Haverstraw was only able to offer half-day classes for the youngest
students in the district.

State legislators approved all-day kindergarten classes in all public
schools in New York.

“This day is a long time coming” said Zebrowski who said that
he and his colleagues had “fought for three years” to secure
funding for schools like West Haverstraw. The assemblyman explained that
by altering the conversion aid program through which the effected schools
are financed, he was able to secure around $8 million in funding for West
Haverstraw alone.

“What we did is come up with a plan to change the conversion aid
program from one year to five years,” said Zebrowski, elaborating
that schools couldn’t fit the necessary changes into their budget
in the course of just one year. Under the new system schools unable to
provide full time kindergarten now have the time and resources to do so.

“(Kindergarten) sets the foundation for the education that a child
will have” said Skoufis while listing the benefits of full-time
classes for young students. The assemblyman also stated that full-time
kindergarten “is a cost saver, to the tune of thousands of dollars
a year” for local parents who no longer have to pay for babysitters
or take time off work to pick up their children. Skoufis also shared his
belief that full-time kindergarten will increase property values and entice
new families to settle within the district.