The first days of school typically have a helter-skelter feel and in the Lawrence School District a few parents took issue with pre-kindergarten registration and vented their concerns on the Inwood/Lawrence Facebook page.
Regarding the Lawrence Early Childhood Center at the Number Four School, Lawrence resident Jose Serrano said: “It’s almost an empty building, why can’t there be enough pre-K classes.”
Alina Konofolskaya, who has two children already attending Lawrence schools, apparently encountered a problem registering a third for pre-K. “Never had a problem before registering them,” she said, “I guess they (the district) also cut off pre-K classes. Now [there are] only five classes for whole district.”
In an email sent to the Herald a parent who identified herself as Bianca write: "When I went in to drop the paperwork off for my daughter to register her for pre-K, they never even took the documentation. We were told there was no more space and that's it! This is very upsetting after being part of this district for more than 15 yrs!!!"
Lawrence district’s pre-K program is operated through a $539, 200 New York State Education Department grant, said Superintendent Dr. Ann Pedersen. The five classes have space for 90 students, she said. “The state gives us 73 pre-K spots and we typically have exceeded that enrollment,” Pedersen said. The program’s needs such as a nurse, the building and access to food exceed the grant funding, she added.
The district’s universal pre-K program began in 2005. Seven years later, Lawrence contracted with St. Joseph’s College’s educational program to employee graduates from the school. Pedersen said the agreement provides the district with “high quality dual-certified staff,” and noted that the cost of five veteran district teachers would nearly exhaust the grant, as there are usually two adults in each class.
Pedersen noted that Lawrence receives $5,9991 per student because the state considers Lawrence a high-wealth district. In comparison, Central Islip, which is considered a low-wealth district, receives $20,000 per student.
She said that were five teachers assigned for five classes and 82 students registered as school got under way on Sept. 4. A few parents called the district office on Sept. 5, including one asking about next school year , Pedersen added.
"The rest thart had received packets were called," she said. "We are now at 90 (five classes at the state cap of 18). We will see if there's anyone else out there, and if so St. Joseph College will get another class set up."
If any parent had or has a problem with pre-K registration, email firstname.lastname@example.org.