Williamsbridge universal pre-K missing $210K in back funding from city

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The principal of a universal preschool program in Williamsbridge says the program is at risk due to thousands of dollars in back funding.

"We survive based on tuition that our parents pay, the scholarship funding that we get from the Children’s Scholarship Fund and the funds that we get from the city’s Department of Education universal pre-K program," says Learning Tree Cultural Preparatory School Principal Lois Gregory.

School officials say that their city contract has not been approved since September, nor have they received funding for the year. They say that this has resulted in teachers not being paid for three weeks and stress around affording the rent for the building.

"We went along for as long as we could, using every other fund to support the teachers but now we have run out of possibilities of shifting money,” says Gregory. “You can only rob Peter to pay Paul for so long."

Officials say they are missing out on $210,000 in back funding from the city since the fall. The contract for payment is said to go through the Department of Education and then to the city’s comptroller's office.

"We've called all over the city, we've pleaded, advocates for us have also called down to the mayor's office, to the comptroller's office, but no funds have been issued to us,” says Gregory.

News 12 was able to locate the school’s contract. It was received by the city's comptroller's office on Dec. 27. Prior to that, it was going through DOE channels but wasn't approved by the Panel for Education Policy until Nov. 28.

The DOE has since responded to News 12's calls for comment, saying that they have approved the contract and will continue to work to process the contract as quickly as possible. They also say they helped The Learning Tree program obtain a loan to keep the program running in the meantime.

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