DELMAR — The Bethlehem Central School District is seeking a partnership with one or more community-based organizations to provide a Universal Pre-Kindergarten program to up to 89 four-year-olds within the district. The district is soliciting proposals from qualified providers in a Request for Proposals issued Friday, June 18.
For the first time ever, New York State has earmarked funds for the district to provide an instructional program for 4-year-olds. The district could receive up to $480,000 to support a UPK program in 2021-22 if the district is able to contract with a qualified community provider that meets the early childhood education requirements for the pre-kindergarten program.
Due to space constraints and possible COVID restrictions continuing into the 2021-22 school year, the district is not able to provide a UPK program in its school buildings. New York State allows districts to use the UPK funds to contract with outside providers to offer a UPK program within the boundaries of the district.
“We may have the funding but we do not have the space to house a Universal Pre-Kindergarten program,” said Superintendent Jody Monroe. “That is why we are seeking community partners who meet the various qualifications set forth by the state to provide this kind of instructional program for four-year-olds. Putting these resources in the hands of those who are already well-versed in the needs of preschoolers is optimal as we focus on getting all students K-12 safely back into our buildings for the new school year.”
Monroe said she was not certain if a community provider responding to the district RFP could have a UPK program in place for September, given the requirements for staffing, classroom space and other logistics outlined by New York State.
“We are asking respondents to include an estimated target date for being up and running,” said Monroe. “This would help us plan any logistics on our end and give parents of preschool-aged children more information for next fall or beyond.”
Interested early childhood education providers have until Monday, July 26, at 3 p.m. to submit a proposal to the district.