Senator Joe Robach joined his colleagues in the New York State Senate today to take a historic step to unanimously override Governor Andrew Cuomo’s veto of legislation expanding full-day kindergarten opportunities to school districts that currently only offer half-day kindergarten programs. The legislation (S700B) was vetoed in April and helps to ensure that all children have access to a quality educational foundation by providing additional funding to school districts with half-day programs so they can more easily transition to full-day programs. Today’s vote was the first attempted override of a veto executed by Governor Andrew Cuomo.
Though the number of half-day kindergarten programs statewide is significantly fewer than past years, the state’s current aid program has yet to ensure that every kindergarten program in New York is full-day. There are five districts in the state that currently don’t offer full-day kindergarten programs – Shenendehowa, Brighton, Pittsford, Washingtonville, and North Rockland – and while some districts are in the process of transitioning, this bill would help ensure resources are in place to help them achieve full-day kindergarten. The districts would be provided with varying levels of additional state assistance over a period of five years.
According to the National Education Association, research demonstrates that full-day kindergarten classes: show greater reading and mathematics gains than those in half-day classes; produce long-term educational gains, especially for low-income and minority students; offer social, emotional and intellectual benefits to kindergartners. Also, five-year-olds are more than ready for the longer school day, and do better in a setting that allows them to learn and explore activities in depth.
Despite these findings, Governor Cuomo vetoed the bill on April 18, 2018.
The bill will now go to the Assembly for override consideration.