ALBANY, N.Y. (WWTI) — New York State is awarding funding to school districts to expand University pre-kindergarten programs across the state.

Funding was awarded through New York State’s UPK Expansion Grant program and totaled $13.36 million across 31 school districts. This included the Thousand Islands Central School District located in Jefferson County.

Grants were awarded to districts based on plans to serve a “community’s highest-need schools and students, level of existing prekindergarten services and the extent to which a district planned to maximize the total number of eligible four-year-old children served in its programs.

According to Education Commissioner Betty A. Rosa and Board of Regents Chancellor Lester W. Young, this funding will enable the district to increase prekindergarten availability for four-year-old students.

“Providing high-quality educational opportunities to our youngest learners is crucial for their future success,” said Chancellor Young, Jr. “The UPK Expansion Grant will allow more children to benefit from early learning that will help them build the skills needed to thrive in school and life.”

“When we strengthen supports and provide equitable opportunities for children in their early years, we see the benefits throughout their school years and beyond,” Commissioner Rosa added.

Funding awarded to the Thousand Islands Central School District may be used during the 2021-2022 or 2022-2023 school years. Final approval of all grants is subject to review and approval of the Office of the State Comptroller.