Buffalo, NY (WBEN) - Governor Andrew Cuomo signed two bills on Wednesday allowing the Buffalo School Board and Utica City School Board to require kindergarten attendance of children beginning at five years old; current law does not require school attendance until age six.
This requirement would not apply to students who attend non-public schools, who are home-schooled or whose parents opt-out. Both Utica and Buffalo anticipate implementing mandatory five-year-old kindergarten for the upcoming 2014-15 school year.
New York State law generally requires that students attend school from ages six through 16. However, several city school districts throughout New York, including Syracuse, New York City and Rochester, have statutory authorization to lower the mandatory entry age to five years old. This bill authorizes the Buffalo City School Board and the Utica City School Board to enact mandatory five year old kindergarten, at local option.
In a statement released today, the Buffalo School District seems to be looking at what the new law may mean in the future.
Over time, we expect a heightened interest in pre-kindergarten programs as well as a result of this legislation. The district must prepare for the possibility of new classrooms for that level of instruction as well.
Since a parent remains a child's most important and first teacher, our expectation is that parents will also realize to an even greater extent the critical role they play in preparing children earlier for formal instruction. This means reading to and with children earlier and making sure they possess basic literacy and speaking skills prior to entering school.