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Pre-K Pilot Program soon coming to Buffalo Public Schools for 3-year-olds, some disagree

"Putting them in a huge environment for a school that goes from a three-year-old to an 8th grade is very overwhelming."
Posted at 5:46 PM, Jun 16, 2022
and last updated 2022-06-16 17:46:03-04

BUFFALO, N.Y. (WKBW) — The Buffalo School Board unanimously approved a plan to establish a pilot program offering pre-K classes for 3-year-olds in the district.

The plan extends the district's ongoing partnership with "Say Yes."

"Early quality preschool programming the long-term outcomes are remarkable," says Buffalo School Board member Larry Scott. "For example, for our students of color, English language learners, students with disabilities, those who come from low-income families, the gaps are narrow, and you have lower suspension rates."

But some fear this early introduction to school could overwhelm young children.

"They're still trying to get their emotions together they're not completely potty trained," says Latrice Martin, director of Kidz Zone Child Care Center. "It's early learning, so putting them in a huge environment for a school that goes from a three-year-old to an 8th grade is very overwhelming."

Martin believes the safety of a three-year-old will be a concern.

"We don't want our children to hate school at an early age," Martin says. "You don't want it to be overwhelming for them, so don't use them as a trial let's do things the right way."

The child care center director is also asking for the district to include child care providers like herself in the discussion as a curriculum is created.

"I'd be happy to meet with any board members at the round table so we can sit and discuss this," Martin says. "I think the right thing for them to do is meet with quality daycare centers."

Larry Scott of the school board understands many child care providers' concerns.

"Their opinions have value. They're servicing our kids and families," he says. "That's not the intent here. Our intent is to provide good and quality early education opportunities as well as social and emotional wellness development."

Scott says the program will launch next January with roughly 105 students. He also says transportation will be included.

"The superintendent is being proactive and getting a plan together before this next school year starts so hopefully, we're better staff for bus drivers," he says.

Scott says registration details are still being worked out, but that should be finalized by fall.