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Look to existing Pre-K as option for statewide system

Friday, April 18, 2014
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Look to existing Pre-K as option for statewide system

This letter is in response to the April 6 editorial on universal pre-kindergarten [UPK]. The answer to the question posed about existing community-based programs, specifically mentioning Head Start, as an option to the recently enacted expansion to universal pre-kindergarten is a resounding yes!

It will be important that community-based providers of quality early childhood education are not forgotten in the efforts to expand UPK. These programs are currently up and running and can be expanded affordably. Schenectady Community Action Program currently provides pre-kindergarten services to more than 200 children.

In addition to SCAP [Schenectady Community Action Program], there are a number of community-based providers in Schenectady County that do an excellent job of providing these important early childhood education services. The YWCA of Schenectady, accredited by the Association for the Education of Young Children, is one example of a quality community-based provider.

I'm concerned that community-based providers will be overlooked by the governor's initiative. Each year, the budget battle makes it harder and harder to ensure services will remain intact. The school districts in Schenectady County know the quality of community-based providers and would be smart and a good steward of the public's resources to ensure this expansion takes place in a cost-efficient manner by contracting through said providers. Taking a look at the space needs of these existing community-based providers and building that into districts' building plans will also ensure integration of services between private/public partners and save the public's resources.

Bigelow Corners, a local initiative, has aligned curriculum and evaluation tools to provide a longitudinal view of effectiveness. This could be expanded to community-based providers. There's much happening in the way of innovation in early childhood in Schenectady. I know from my network of Community Action agencies that across New York there are innovative solutions being implemented through partnerships with public schools. This public/private partnership is important to ensure quality services at a price New York can afford.

Debra L. Schimpf

Schenectady

Will Gov. Cuomo go after knives next?

Due to the fact that Gov. Cuomo is so inclined to save us from ourselves, everybody in New York had better buy knives while they still can.

Now that someone has stabbed 22 people at a school, it is only a matter of time before New York residents will have to have a background check before being able to buy a knife. Then it will have to be registered, and we will need to get a permit (renewable every five years) to own one [April 10 Gazette].

Michael Andreadakis

Ballston Spa

Explanation required for high heating bills

This letter is in response to Sandra Natale's April 12 letter of admonishment to all of us to "turn down the heat" -- her response to this winter's high energy costs. I, for one, was pretty insulted by the tone of the letter, as if we who live here are not aware of the winter climate in the Northeast and care nothing about the environment.

We expect our heating bills to be higher in the winter months, and we accommodate for that by doing exactly the things Ms. Natale recommends. However, when all care is taken, and the bill still rises 50 percent to 100 percent, it does bear looking into, especially when everyone is affected.

It may turn out that indeed, everything is on the level and the prices are legitimate. But let the energy suppliers prove it.

I, for one, have let my legislative representatives know that I am not one bit happy with the cost of energy this winter, despite measures to conserve, and I have requested an investigation of National Grid and its suppliers. Let it happen, and let the answers be made public.

Kathleen Slater

Central Bridge

Forum to examine heroin, opioid abuse

Heroin and opioid abuse is on the rise in New York and has led to more drug overdoses and deaths. We need community-based solutions to address this growing crisis to better protect children and families.

Please save the date -- and be my guest -- for an important community forum on preventing, treating and overcoming heroin and opioid addiction. The forum will take place on Wednesday from 9 a.m. to noon at Hudson Valley Community College's (HVCC) Bulmer Telecommunications Center Auditorium located at 80 Vandenburgh Ave. in Troy. This event is being sponsored by the bi-partisan Joint Senate Task Force on Heroin and Opioid Addiction, on which I serve.

Our community forum will feature a panel discussion of law enforcement, educators, addiction/recovery specialists, health care professionals and elected officials. We will focus on finding solutions to New York's growing heroin and opioid abuse problem. You can ask questions and share your ideas at this forum and there is no cost to attend this free community event that also will provide light refreshments.

Seating at the forum is limited, so please RSVP by calling my office at 455-2381, or emailing me at marchione@nysenate.gov.

Thank you, and I hope to see you at our community forum at HVCC on April 23.

Kathleen A. Marchione

Albany

The writer is a state senator for the 43rd District.

STDs on the rise; get tested to be safe

Saratoga County is experiencing an increase in chlamydia and gonorrhea, two common sexually transmitted diseases, according to a recent community needs assessment conducted by Saratoga Hospital.

Sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) are a concern for everyone, from young people to senior citizens. Testing is vital because the most common symptom of an STD is no symptom at all. Fortunately, all STDs can be treated and most can be cured. However, left untreated, STDs can have serious health consequences.

If you're sexually active, you might be at risk for an STD. Whether you're LGBT [lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender] or straight, STD testing is important for women and men to stay safe and healthy. Get tested. It's confidential, quick and easy. STD testing can be as simple as peeing in a cup. HIV oral tests provide results in just 20 minutes.

April is STD awareness month. It's a great time to visit your health care provider and get tested.

Eileen Lawson

Saratoga Springs

The writer is the health center director of Clifton Park and Saratoga Springs for Planned Parenthood Mohawk Hudson.

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