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With state funding secure, Mayor de Blasio announces locations of new school pre-K programs

Mayor Bill de Blasio visits pre-K class at P.S. 239 with Chancellor Carmen Fariña in 2014.
Mayor Bill de Blasio visits pre-K class at P.S. 239 with Chancellor Carmen Fariña in 2014.
Rob Bennett

Mayor Bill de Blasio’s ambitious plans for a pre-kindergarten expansion took another step forward today, when the mayor announced which schools will get new or expanded pre-K programs next year.

“It starts today,” de Blasio said, two days after a state budget deal allotted $300 million to New York City to support its pre-K ambitions. “Now that the money is secure, we start it today.”

City officials have selected 140 public schools where they will be adding 4,268 new full-day pre-K seats, de Blasio said today, a 26 percent increase over last year’s total.

While the schools are spread out across the city, a few districts where pre-K programs are already prevalent will add a larger-than-average share of the new seats. District 30 in Queens, where parents are often waitlisted, will add 378 seats, mostly by converting half-day seats. Staten Island’s District 31, another in-demand area, will add 504 seats.

The city’s announcement of where the new some of the seats will be located is an important detail for parents who may have been interested in applying their four-year-olds, but who didn’t know where the options would be available.

Parents have until April 23 to apply for a seat at a public school pre-K program, a deadline that’s already been extended from April 1 because of the funding uncertainties. Community-based organizations, which the city hopes will provide another 30,000 pre-K seats, are set to open up their application period starting in May.

But with just three weeks left for parents to apply for a public school program, de Blasio and his City Hall aides had an urgent message not to wait for the CBOs.

“Apply, apply, apply, apply, apply, apply,” said Deputy Mayor Richard Buery when asked if parents could wait to apply for a CBO seat.

De Blasio made the announcement at P.S. 239 in Queens, a school that de Blasio said will be able to convert its half-day seats into 36 full-day seats next year—evidence of how state funds had already bolstered expansion plans.

He added that while the goal is to eventually offer seats for all of the city’s 73,000 four-year-olds, this year’s decisions were made based on the quality of the school’s existing programs or applications, and by where the demand was highest.

In total, Manhattan is adding 594 seats in schools next year; Bronx schools will add 694 seats; Brooklyn will add 1,242; Queens will add 1,234, Staten Island has 504. The full list is embedded below.

De Blasio will tour P.S. 1’s pre-K program on the Lower East Side tomorrow with Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver, who lobbied aggressively for the legislature to allot pre-K funds to the city in this year’s state budget.

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