Dunkirk City School District expands free Pre-K for younger kids

Posted at 7:22 PM, Aug 16, 2017

The Dunkirk City School District believes early education offered through Pre-K programs can be a "game changer" for children - especially those from low-income households.

This year for the first time, the district is offering a new Pre-K program for 3-year-olds that is NYS supervised, includes a nutrition component, and provides early childhood education.  Dunkirk Schools have partnered with Chautauqua Opportunities, Inc. and Campus & Community Children's Center to provide the new Pre-K program.

Community response has been strong with only a few seats remaining for the 1/2 day Pre-K program for 3-year-olds.

Early Childhood Administrator Bill Smock said the district is also open to exploring the idea of expanding the program to include children 2-years-old and younger in the future.  While many parents liked the idea of the new Pre-K for 3-year-olds, several we talked with felt kids age 2 were too young.

However, early childhood education experts say even very young children can benefit from early education.

Demand for the Pre-K programs through the Dunkirk Schools is so strong, that the district applied for a grant so it can expand the number of seats available in its existing Pre-K program for 4-year-olds.

7 Eyewitness News Reporter Ed Reilly takes a closer look at the new program and what people think is the appropriate age for kids to start Pre-K.