NEW YORK—Mayor Bill de Blasio is urging parents to sign up their 4-year-olds for an expanded prekindergarten program. The city just added more than 3,000 new seats, and another 1,200 were bumped up from half-day to full-day.
With an application deadline set for April 23, the city launched a $300,000 ad campaign to promote pre-K in buses, subways, and taxicabs, supported by door to door canvassing and public announcements.
The city’s Education Department is printing Pre-K Expansion Guides detailing information for parents. Parents can pick them up at libraries, elementary schools, and community centers. Five thousand eligible families in public housing will get brochures in the mail. The guide will be available online in nine languages.
Parents can sign up their children through the Education Department website or by visiting the local Enrollment Office. They are advised against mailing the application or bringing it to individual schools.
The April 23 deadline is for pre-K provided by public schools. About 20,000 full-day and 6,000 half-day seats are available. Parents can list up to 12 pre-K programs in their applications, and will learn whether they get a seat or not in June.
Another 30,000 full-day seats are supposed to be offered by community-based organizations, and become available in May. Parents will need to contact them one by one to check for availability. Unlike with public school pre-K, where seats are distributed based on zones and other priorities, community organizations provide their seats on a “first-come-first-served” basis, according to the Education Department website.
With about 70,000 eligible children in the city, chances are parents won’t get a seat at a public school pre-K. The mayor suggested parents apply to multiple programs. “Parents should apply to any and all options that they think will work for their child,” de Blasio said during an April 3 press conference.
Seats for special needs students usually represent about 10 percent of the seats available. The first step is to ask for an evaluation, as the program needs to learn what services the child requires.
“If you believe your child has a disability and may need special education services, you can request an evaluation in writing at your local CSE or CPSE,” reads the Department of Education website.
For more information, visit: schools.nyc.gov/prek