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De Blasio defends quality of community-based pre-K sites

Mayor Bill de Blasio promoted a new online application for pre-kindergarten programs at community-based organizations on Tuesday, while pushing back against suggestions that those sites will be inferior to public school pre-K options.

Following recent investigations that showed some of the city-approved CBO sites have outstanding health and building code violations, de Blasio said the city was focused on quality control and emphasized the new manpower available for pre-K site inspections at a number of city agencies.

The Department of Education has recently hired 100 employees dedicated to inspecting pre-K sites, he said, bringing the total number of inspectors in the department to 250. The Department of Health has added 12 inspectors to its current team of 80, and the Fire Department has taken on 20 additional inspectors.

Lastly, the inspection team at the Department of Buildings has grown from eight to 13, and the Department of Design and Construction’s team has grown from zero to 15.

“There is a massive effort underway to guarantee the quality levels at each and every site,” de Blasio said at an event at P.S. 239 in Queens, adding that the city has rejected many applications from CBOs that didn’t meet the city’s quality standards.

“No program participates in our pre-K effort, unless they’re working with a Common Core curriculum, unless they have teachers who have a certain level of experience and capacity,” de Blasio said.

The city is also moving closer to assigning students to seats for next fall. Families who applied to public school pre-K programs by the city’s April application deadline, a process in which they ranked up to 12 schools, will find out whether they’ve been matched with a school on Thursday.

Families unhappy with their match, who aren’t matched, or who have not yet applied for a seat can apply to an unlimited number of CBO programs using a paper form or a new online application that will remain open until school ends on June 26.

Families will also be able to visit public schools in person during a second enrollment round that begins June 21. Officials are anticipating that some enrolled pre-K students will move away or switch to other programs, freeing up spots for new students.

Of the 53,000 pre-K spots that de Blasio has committed to securing by this fall, 20,000 will be within public schools and 25,000 within CBOs. The administration has yet to announce the locations of the last 8,000 seats, which will be run by charter schools, parochial schools, and additional public schools and CBOs.

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