2015-04-08 / Front Page

Universal Pre-K Attendees On The Rise

BY RICHARD GENTILVISO

The city’s universal Pre-K program is more than half way to the goal of enrolling 70,000 four-year-olds and the Department of Education (DOE) is looking for space.

Families have until April 24 to enroll a child born in 2011 for a Pre-K seat in September and through March 23 more than 37,000 families have already done so.

There were 21,938 families applying on the first day, March 16, an increase of 6,500 over the first day of the Pre-K application process last year, when a total of 53,000 families enrolled. Families save more than $10,000 annually on childcare costs with the Universal Pre-K program.

The city has been advertising in print, on the radio and in subways, and while the expansion means more programs, it also requires more seats across the five boroughs.

As a result, DOE has also been advertising for space. DOE flyers were available at the March 17 meeting of Community Board 1 with the heading “Seeking Space” noting DOE “is seeking to identify space that could be converted for Pre-K programs.”

Space is being sought in a variety of settings, such as community facilities, private commercial spaces, or cultural facilities to be leased, owned or operated by DOE through the School Construction Authority or operated by contracted partners with DOE (New York City Early Childhood Centers).

A Space Registry has been established at: schools.nyc.gov/Academics/EarlyChil dhood/support/prekspace to provide landlords, developers, cultural institutions, and brokers. To learn more about the DOE space request, email Theresa Ward at TWard9@schools.nyc.gov.

DOE will soon announce a Request For Proposals (RFP) for full-day Pre-K providers starting in the next school year. The space registry allows potential Pre-K operators to search the database of available spaces and contact potential space holders.

About half of the Pre-K seats are in district and charter school buildings and another half are in community based facilities independently operated, known as New York City Early Childhood Centers.

“We’re still looking [for space],” said Mayor Bill de Blasio on March 16. “We have a lot of space but we are continuing to look for space, especially in some of the districts that have had overcrowding problems in their schools to begin with.”

In District 30, one of the city’s most overcrowded districts, the temporary placement of Pre-K classes in five district schools during the construction of a Pre-K center has caused concern because the Pre- K classes are not considered to be part of the schools they are in and are not under the principal’s administration.

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