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Higher State Taxes, Federal Stimulus To Fund Expanded Pre-K On Long Island

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) -- A flood of new money from higher state taxation and federal stimulus funding is coming to Long Island.

It will immediately pay to expand pre-K and could possible lower school property taxes next year, CBS2's Jennifer McLogan reported Thursday.

Michele Thomas of West Hempstead wonders why New York City has universal pre-K, but she has to pay $1,000 a week for it.

"This is a working class, middle class town, and to have to pay for preschool is not exactly easy," Thomas said.

Oroma Mpi-Reynolds knows her four-year-old would thrive with a head start.

"For me, as a mom, I would love to see Riley in the program, really getting that exposure to academic learning and the structure of being in a school environment," she said.

They are among relieved parents learning state aid to pre-K across Long Island is getting a 13% financial bump and will be able to serve 5,200 new preschoolers.

"We know that, for working families, not having to choose between missing a shift and watching their children is a choice they should not have to make in the 21st century. So providing this funding for Long Island schools matters so much," said State Sen. Todd Kaminsky.

"Here in West Hempstead, over 50% of our students who enter our doors at Chestnut Street do not attend preschool. So this is a great opportunity," said West Hempstead Schools Superintendent Daniel Rehman.

With the massive federal stimulus package and billions now in state school financial aid, folks here are talking taxes.

Many homeowners argue school districts should cancel planned property tax increases this year, look to lower them next year and become more transparent.

"We are going to move towards less reliance on property tax and more of the government side of funding, and that's the goal," said State Sen. Shelley Mayer. "Hopefully some people do it right now and lessen the property tax burden on Long Island taxpayers."

The mantra from parents is raise up schools, lower property taxes.

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