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BTF leader says kindergarten 'absolutely critical'

WBFO News file photo

There may be hundreds more kindergartners in Buffalo Public Schools when classes start in six weeks. Kindergarten is now mandatory for 5-year-olds in city schools.

Governor Cuomo has signed legislation making kindergarten mandatory in Buffalo and Utica.  Former Buffalo School Board member John Licata had pushed the measure and persuaded local legislators to back the proposal. 

Under current law, parents don't have to send their kids possibly making worse the attendance problems in the city's kindergartens.  With the plan to start the new system this year, school officials are rushing to prepare classrooms and hire teachers for the new system.  

Buffalo Teachers Federation president Phil Rumore tells WBFO News the union has long pushed for mandatory kindergarten to help young people start quickly.
"Absolutely critical. it's something that we have been calling for for many years. The staggering fact is that the absenteeism in kindergarten is astronomical.  And, it's not like when i went to school whether it's just like a lot of games.  It's absolutely critical especially for some of our kids who are coming to school now completely unprepared," said Rumore.

Rumore said rural school systems should be pushing for the same legal changes because many of their kids are as unprepared as too many kindergartners in cities. he says this may help with that terrible absenteeism in city schools.

Mike Desmond is one of Western New York’s most experienced reporters, having spent nearly a half-century covering the region for newspapers, television stations and public radio. He has been with WBFO and its predecessor, WNED-AM, since 1988. As a reporter for WBFO, he has covered literally thousands of stories involving education, science, business, the environment and many other issues. Mike has been a long-time theater reviewer for a variety of publications and was formerly a part-time reporter for The New York Times.
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