The 33 students who will comprise the two inaugural prekindergarten classes offered at Hampton Bays Elementary School this fall were selected through a lottery drawing held earlier this month.
All 50 names submitted for the lottery were pulled by school officials on May 13, though only the first 33 students are guaranteed a spot in one of the two classes that will be offered for the first time in Hampton Bays starting in the next school year.
The program, which does not include transportation, will be financed through a $89,000 state grant that was previously included in this year’s state budget. It has yet to be seen if a similar grant will be offered in next year’s state budget.
If the state does not fund the program next year, the program will most likely be discontinued, according to Hampton Bays Elementary School Principal Marc Meyer. He added that it is unlikely that the tab will picked up by district taxpayers if no state aid is available.
Hampton Bays was not eligible for the grant last year because of limited classroom space. However, the opening of the district’s new $42 million middle school on Ponquogue Avenue, and the February relocation of the district’s fifth- and sixth-graders from the elementary school to the middle school, has freed up enough space to accommodate the two pre-K classes, according to school officials.
Mr. Meyer said he had originally lobbied for two additional, taxpayer-funded pre-K classrooms, but that money was not included in this year’s operating budget. Mr. Meyer expressed his regret at not being able to provide pre-K classes to all qualifying students in Hampton Bays.
“I would love to provide this service for every child in the community. Early intervention is the key,” Mr. Meyer said, referring to studies showing that students who attend pre-kindergarten have higher test scores and better graduation rates.
Dennis Schug, the dean of students at Hampton Bays Elementary School, explained that the 33 students at the top of the list will be closely monitored to ensure that only those residing within the Hampton Bays School District are offered this program. He added that if one of the 33 students moves out of the district, or declines a spot, another student on the list will take the opening.
“We have a process to monitor everyone in the district,” Mr. Schug said. “We will stay on top of it.”
Though school officials had expected up to 150 students to register for the lottery, only 50 names were submitted by the filing deadline. Mr. Meyer explained that the low turnout might be due to parents already enrolling their students in private full-day or part-time day care.
The elementary school’s pre-K programs will run for two and a half hours each day, which might prove problematic for parents who work full-time.