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City schools boss preaches pre-K at church congregation

Chancellor Carmen Fariña talked up pre-kindergarten at a Brooklyn church on Sunday as part of a citywide push by the de Blasio administration to sell a tax-the-rich proposal to faith congregations.

Fariña didn’t mention the tax in an eight-minute speech to congregants of the First Baptist Church of Crown Heights, an influential church helmed by Reverend Clarence Norman. Instead, she focused her remarks on connecting many of the values and activities supported by the church to the benefits of expanded pre-K.

“The singing that you do today to bring together this community is singing that we do automatically in all our pre-K classes and all our children deserve that,” Fariña said, adding that booming vocals and live band had “totally de-stressed” her. 

“I just feel better having been here today, and I think that’s what [universal pre-kindergarten] will do for kids,” Fariña told reporters after. “Instead of being at home or someplace else they’ll come to school and feel better when they leave.”

Fariña was one of eight administration officials to speak on Sunday at a religious service, a de Blasio spokesman said. It comes in the final stretch of a lobbying campaign being waged by de Blasio and his allies to build public support for a tax raise proposal on wealthy New Yorkers, which needs approval from the state legislature.

The tax would bring in more than $500 million in annual revenue for five years to expand pre-K access and after school programs in middle schools. But with about three weeks left in the state’s budget negotiations, legislative leaders have hedged on supporting de Blasio’s tax proposal, led by Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s outspoken opposition, which many see as a sign that its chances of passing are slim.

Fariña told reporters that she’s been feeling “stressed” from the job in recent days, but said “after going to a service as inspiring as this one today, I feel I can take on the world.”

She offered no more details about the city’s renewed efforts to find space for the Success Academy middle school that lost space, other than to “stay tuned.”