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February 13, 2014

Pre-K program to change

Lockport Union-Sun & Journal — Lockport City School District is making a change with its pre-kindergarten special education program provider, but parents and students shouldn’t be affected, district officials said.

The pre-kindergarten special education program will remain at John Pound School on High Street, said Deborah Coder, assistant superintendent for finance and management services. The program will be staffed by a different agency.

The county was reimbursing the district for the cost of the program, but that arrangement was becoming costly, officials said.

“The reimbursement rate did not keep up with expenses,” Coder told board members.

Board of Education members voted Monday to terminate its contract with the Niagara County Health Department by July 1. It’s expected the move will save the district about $74,000.

Coder said the new vendor hasn’t been chosen yet. Four different agencies are being interviewed, Coder added.

The pre-kindergarten special education program does not have to be bid out. 

Last year, board members made a change to the district’s universal pre-kindergarten program. Lockport is under contract with the YWCA of Niagara to provide services, all at John Pound. Pound houses the district’s early education programs.

The contract is for $189,789, which is covered by the state UPK funding, with about 100 children enrolled.

Also on Monday, the Board of Education received the latest version of the 2014-15 school year budget.

As it stands now, the budget totals $87.2 million, up just over 5 percent from the current school year or just under $4 million more in spending. 

If Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s proposed budget is approved by state lawmakers, the district stands to take in $40.8 million in state aid. Lockport would also receive $4.2 million in technology upgrades from Albany, if New Yorkers vote yes to a bond issue in November.

Lockport plans to use $2 million from its appropriated fund balance and another $2.4 million from its reserves.

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