NIAGARA WHEATFIELD, N.Y. (WIVB) - Budget issues could force a local school district to cut out Kindergarten. Now, other school districts in trouble could be looking toward Niagara Wheatfield to see what they do.
Kindergarten is not mandated in New York State but a proposal to cut-out or modify kindergarten is getting some strong reaction from the parent group at one of the Niagara Wheatfield elementary schools.
Niagara Wheatfield School Board member Chris Peters said, "In my opinion we need to give a direction here to the administration to look at potentially cutting out kindergarten, non-mandated program."
The Board needs to make $1 million dollars worth of cuts for the upcoming budget.
Peters said, "We need to look at what's going to affect the kids the least in this district."
For Julie Fago, whose son Andrew is a kindergarten student at Errick Road Elementary School--cutting kindergarten is not an option.
Julie Fago, Errick Road Parent Group President said, "I think they would end up in first grade completely far behind, and they'd be expected to read and write, and I'd say at least probably 70 percent of them would not be able to.
She added, "We have to look at non-mandated programs in New York State."
Peters, the school board member who suggested possibly cutting or modifying kindergarten, had an impromptu meeting with mothers who make up the Errick Road Elementary School parents group. He said it was only a proposal.
Fago said she would rather see sports cut back if it becomes a choice between that or kindergarten."I would rather them keep kindergarten and cut the sports back; that's my own personal opinion. I feel like the kids are here for education. That's why they're here to (be) taught and learn, and the sports can come after."
In response Peters said, "Obviously we have to look at sports and music programs, but those types of things also effect someone at a different level in the school district, not just the young ones coming' in, so it's difficult. It's not an easy thing for any board member."
Niagara Wheatfield faces financial problems as a result of a 0% increase in school taxes. With changes in the state budget and unfunded mandates, last year the school had to lay off 43 teachers and 17 support staff.
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