Bay Shore School District opens new UPK center at old Armory campus


[The below story was updated at 2 p.m. on Friday, Nov. 6, to include a funding breakdown from the district.]

The Bay Shore School District has reached its long-held goal of opening a universal prekindergarten center at the old Armory campus.

There, every prekindergarten-aged child in the district will be offered a jump-start on his or her education.

That’s over 400 students.

Bay Shore acquired the former Armory property on Brentwood Road from the state in 2011, and is among a few districts in New York to offer universal prekindergarten to all.

Now, with the old Armory campus open, they’re doing so in one central location, just south of Sunrise Highway.

“We are proud and excited to open the new Bay Shore Schools Pre-Kindergarten Center,” superintendent Joseph Bond said in a statement. “Our UPK program is part of what makes Bay Shore a destination location for families who want the best education for their children.

“The program provides a solid foundation to help students build the skills they will need to dream, lead and achieve as they get older.”

So far, the district has put $15 million into the building, with $8.5 million in capital projects funding from the school district’s general fund, and another $6.5 million in grants and a large donation.

Those grants include $1 million in QZAB federal stimulus money for roofing and site remediation, $4 million in SMART Bond funds, and a $1.5 million donation made by a community member through the YMCA.

The district is planning a ribbon-cutting ceremony soon. Check back at GreaterBayShore for full coverage including a photo tour, and for additional details.

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The district’s new UPK center, which faces east on Brentwood Road.

The property was acquired through legislation sponsored by state Assemblyman Phil Ramos and the late state Senator Owen Johnson, who had continued to support the proposal after the land was acquired.

how it works

Many Long Island districts either don’t offer prekindergarten, or only offer half-day programs.

Still others offer full-day that’s limited to a relatively small number of children, with slots awarded through a lottery.

To offer UPK, districts contract with private, third-party providers. The providers staff the programs (and more) and the private provider and district work together to administer curricula.

One of those providers in Bay Shore, the Great South Bay YMCA was the first on board, back in 1995, according to previous reports, offering half day UPK to 30 children that year.

The district eventually grew the program with more providers and offered full-day UPK to all two decades later, in 2015.

In public schools, which often educate children whose families have drastically varying means — which is the case in Bay Shore — Bond has said providing UPK to as many local children as possible is entirely about closing the well-researched achievement gap.