Pre-kindergarten expansion sought in New York City

Jan. 28, 2014
Mayor Bill de Blasio wants New York City to provide free full-day pre-kindergarten to more than 73,000 4-year-olds.

New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio is moving forward with plans to offer free, full-day pre-kindergarten to every 4-year-old child in the city.

An implementation plan for the program expansion says that the de Blasio administration says that an estimated 73,250 children are eligible for full-day pre-K. In 2014-15, the school system proposes to offer full-day pre-K to more than 53,000 students; the following year the program would be expanded to accommodate the full 73,250. Right now, fewer than 27 percent of New York City 4-year-olds take part in full-day pre-K.

“Ultimately, all families with 4-year-olds who want full-day pre-K will have access to free services with consistent quality standards and support for teachers and administrators,” the plan says.

Instruction in the pre-K program will consist of 180 days of 6 hours and 20 minutes. Students whose primary language is not English (the city says 19 percent of kindergarten students are English Language Learners) and who live in high-need areas will receive additional support.

To carry out the program, the city will need about 2,000 more classrooms. The city education department has identified about 4,000 classrooms within public school buildings that could be available; other space may be found at community-based organizations that now operate the majority of pre-K programs in the city.

The pre-K expansion will cost about $10,239 per child, the city says. The mayor has proposed paying for the program  through an income tax hike on the city’s highest earners.

“Filling the gap in full-day pre-K access cannot wait,” the mayor’s implementation plan says. “The children we could potentially place in programs in September will not get another chance to have a pre-K experience that sets them up for achievement and increased opportunities later in life.”

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