By CAROL REIFPublishedJanuary 14, 2022 at 1:28 PMLast UpdatedJanuary 14, 2022 at 1:28 PM

SOMERS, N.Y. – Early-childhood education is getting a big boost in Somers this month with the launch of Universal Pre-kindergarten.

The publicly funded, tuition-free program will provide learning opportunities for four-year-olds and help them transition into K-12 education.

The school district, after receiving a state grant last spring, had hoped to start offering Pre-K in the fall but was forced to postpone the opening until the second semester of the 2021-2022 school year. It will not lose funding because of the delay. That’s because Albany has acknowledged that the turnaround time was extremely tight, and some districts needed more time to prepare.

Covering about 95 percent of the costs, the grant is not a one-shot deal; it is the base for aid going forward, education officials said. The per-pupil funding limit is $5,400.

The Board of Education voted on Tuesday, Jan. 4, to approve a contract between the district and the White Plains-based vendor, YMCA of Central and Northern Westchester.

The program officially starts on Monday, Jan. 24, at Primrose Elementary School.

Its 18 slots have already been filled but anyone interested in getting their child on the “list” for September’s 18 spots can contact Stacey Elconin, the district’s director of special services, by emailing Parents will need to supply their child’s name and date of birth and their names, email addresses, and phone numbers. Participants are chosen via lottery.