Legislation Passes Mandating Kindergarten in Buffalo

June 19, 2014 Updated Jun 20, 2014 at 6:41 AM EDT

By Rachel Elzufon

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June 19, 2014 Updated Jun 20, 2014 at 6:41 AM EDT

Buffalo, NY (WKBW) - Legislation passed by the state legislature now requires all five-year-olds must in Buffalo must attend Kindergarten.

In the 2013-2014 school year, nearly half of Kindergarteners in Buffalo were chronically absent. District leaders hope this new legislation increases attendance and enrollement.

Ten to thirty person of five year olds are not enrolled in Kindergarten in the Queen City.

State legislators voted that five-year-olds must enroll in school in Buffalo. If signed into law, it would add anywhere between 200 and 600 Kindergarten students next year.

However, a high absentee rate also plagues public schools, starting with the smallest students.

Senator Mark Grisanti (R-Buffalo), who co-sponsored the legislation with Assemblywoman Crystal Peoples-Stokes (D-Buffalo), explains, "once you enroll your child in Kindergarten and they're five years old, it's a mandate to enforce the attendance."

Grisanti adds the district can take action against parents who do not comply.

Interim Superintendent Will Keresztes says this will add about 200-600 kindergarteners to the school district next year.

He says the district has other plans to boost attendance, including initiatives to educate parents about the importance of early learning. He also wants to add to the classroom.

"We need to be ready to train new teachers to be really effective with Kindergarteners, we need to be ready for more pre-Kindergarten classes," Keresztes says.