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Queens Chronicle

Mayor: There’s plenty of space for pre-K

DOE says 29,000 seats available for Sept.

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Posted: Thursday, February 27, 2014 10:30 am

There’s plenty of room for prekindergarten in New York City, at least according to Mayor de Blasio.

City Hall released a report Tuesday that said the capacity exists for universal pre-K to be implemented this September.

The city Department of Education said it has received proposals for 29,000 seats — more than the 21,000 the department says would be required for September.

Community-based organizations, seen as substitutes for pre-K locations in areas of the city with overcrowded schools like Western Queens, submitted proposals for 650 sites, representing approximately 20,000 potential seats, with 280 public elementary schools putting forward applications for an additional 9,000 seats.

Space has been an issue even among supporters of de Blasio’s universal pre-K plan. Nick Comaianni and Isaac Carmignani, presidents of the community education councils in districts 24 and 30, respectively, the most overcrowded districts in the state, have said they doubted the space exists for pre-K this year. In District 24, some schools have axed pre-K in order to make room for students in higher grades.

Councilman Danny Dromm (D-Jackson Heights), chairman of the Education Committee, held a hearing on the issue earlier this month during which Schools Chancellor Carmen Fari–a said the DOE was looking at CBOs to fill the gap in space.

Roughly 60 percent of schools applying are located in neighborhoods with a significant shortage of pre-K seats, and an equal proportion is in low-income communities, according to the report.

But whether de Blasio’s plan can get off the ground in December may not be up to him. The mayor is still insisting on funding a universal pre-K plan through a tax hike on city residents with incomes over $500,000, which requires approval from Albany. Gov. Cuomo opposes such a move and unveiled his own pre-K plan for the entire state, which would not get off the ground until 2015 and is financed without new taxes.

Welcome to the discussion.