Mayor de Blasio Expands Universal Pre-K

BY JORDAN GIBBONS
Staff Writer

Mayor Bill de Blasio announced Friday that there will be 10,400 additional full-day pre-kindergarten seats in community-based early childhood centers by September. The Mayor announced more than 500 seats for both Flushing and Jamaica as part of the initiative.

The seats were approved by the Panel for Educational Policy. The new sites are posted online at nyc.gov/prek and de Blasio asked parents to apply by June 26 to find the best option for their children. Parents were scheduled to receive notification of placements in the public school’s pre-K programs on June 5.

Maria Afonso, parent and teacher, spoke about the benefits of pre-K during the Mayor’s press conference. Photo by Jordan Gibbons

Maria Afonso, parent and teacher, spoke about the benefits of pre-K during the Mayor’s press conference. Photo by Jordan Gibbons

The Mayor toured the A to Z Center Too child care facility in Queens Village before the announcement and was impressed with the attentiveness of the children.

“It was great to visit the classroom,” he said. “The engagement, the poise, they are right there with it.”
Jasmin Farrier, of St. Albans, a mother of three and PTA vice-president of PS 118, was on hand for the announcement after registering her son, London, 4, at the facility earlier that morning. She found out about the program the night before.

“I rushed over immediately,” she said. “Full-day pre-K is essential in early child development. The process was seamless.”

A to Z currently has 20 seats for full-day pre-K. In September, it will have 74. In all of Queens, there will be an additional 4,500 seats for the new school year and there are now 1,200 public schools and community-based organizations that offer universal pre-K in New York City.

The new sites added to the program must meet the quality standards of the City before they open in September and will be supervised and supported by the City, according to Deputy Mayor Richard Buery.

“There are going to be high-quality programs coming to communities across the five boroughs,” he said. “We are trying to reach every parent with an eligible child to make sure they get the message, apply early and apply often. We want every family to find the best fit for their child.”

There are now universal applications provided by the City that can be found online and work at any center. Parents can apply to as many centers as they want.

Public Advocate Letitia James said she was very proud of the progress made so far, but said the most important part is that it is all free.

“The benefits of pre-K are immeasurable and innumerable,” she said. “Quality pre-K works. Universal pre-K is a family issue, a middle class issue and a women’s issue.”

State Senator James Sanders (D-Laurelton) was also in attendance and said that the City needs to address the education issue now.

“America is falling further and further behind in the education race,” he said. “These youth especially have to be prepared for the next generation. New York City must continue. Whatever is going to happen to America is going to happen here first.”

Reach Jordan Gibbons at (718)357-7400 Ext. 123, jgibbons@queenspress.com or @jgibbons2.