Central Brooklyn Looks Forward to UPK and After School Program Roll Out
By Stephen Witt
With $300 million secured from the state for Mayor Bill de Blasio’s signature full-day Universal Pre-Kindergarten (UPK) and improved after-school programs, the administration has moved quickly to provide a list of the schools that will have added seats for UPK.
The list includes more than a three dozen existing schools throughout Brooklyn. There will be additions to this list as well, as a number of local community based organizations (CBOs) that will be eligible to have UPK seats as the roll out of the program increases.
In total, the de Blasio Administration said it will open a record-breaking 4,268 new full-day, pre-kindergarten seats in public schools by September 2014, and about 53,000 seats in September 2014. Eventually, UPK will be open to all 73,250 eligible students by the 2015-2016 school year.
“We are more than 4,000 seats closer to ensuring that every 4-year-old has access to high quality full-day pre-K,” said de Blasio. “For months, we have been planning every facet of these programs to ensure we were ready to launch the moment funding was secured. Today, the rubber hits the road, and families will have more options for their children.”
In order for a school to be considered for additional or new pre-K seats, principals needed to submit a comprehensive proposal demonstrating how they plan to offer high quality instruction and family engagement in space suitable for young children.
The Department of Education reviewed each proposal to ensure children entering full-day pre-K classrooms in September have an enriching and supportive pre-K experience.
Children born in 2010 who live in New York City are eligible to apply to the variety of offerings available for September 2014.
The city needs to add up to 1,000 pre-K teachers this September and up to an additional 1,000 the following year to staff new classrooms as part of its expansion of high quality, full-day pre-K.
Thus far, de Blasio said the city has experienced a big spike in pre-K teacher applications, and has received 690 applications from early education certified teachers (Birth-Grade 2), an increase of 50 percent in just one week following the administration’s announcement of TeachNYCPreK.org. These latest figures put the city on course to meet or exceed its projection of 2,500 applications from certified pre-K teachers for the coming school year.
“We are committed to having a top-tier teacher in every pre-K classroom come September. And we are on course to make that happen. We are investing in our own people to build new career pipelines into our early education system, and we are recruiting the best and the brightest to come here and be a part of this transformative project,” said de Blasio in a statement.
Bedford Stuyvesant City Councilman Robert Cornegy Jr. said he expects the rollout of the program will have a positive impact for his district.
“The successful campaign to fund Universal Pre-Kindergarten is a tremendous victory for the children and parents of New York City. I congratulate Mayor de Blasio on leading the charge and Governor Cuomo on delivering the needed funding,” said Cornegy. “The DOE (Department of Education) has stated that 60% of the new seats will be in community based organizations, so I expect
that longtime daycare providers in the 36th Council District will benefit from the program as well,” said Cornegy.
City Councilwoman Laurie Cumbo, whose 35th Council District includes Fort Greene, Clinton Hill, Prospect Heights and part of Crown Heights, also hailed the plan.
“UPK is an incredible and important new educational initiative that will impact the future of our children. Ultimately, it will change how we see education and alter our current norms of how we educate our children. I am delighted that the passage of the New York State budget includes $300 million to fund the City’s UPK initiative and expand after-school programs,” said Cumbo. “As a collective administration, we are shaping and working out how this initiative will be implemented together and this takes patience and time because we have to get it right. We are utilizing the input from hearings, town hall meetings, letters and testimonies to better position ourselves in the upcoming weeks to provide greater detail about its implementation.”
The application deadline for public school options is April 23, and the Department of Education will notify families about public school placements in June. Families will also have an opportunity to apply for slots at community-based organizations later this spring.
Parents can learn about and apply for public school pre-K options online at schools.nyc.gov/prek or by visiting a Borough Enrollment Office.
The Pre-K Expansion Guide, which lists the new public school options, is also available at schools.nyc.gov/prek.