De Blasio Promises 'a Lot' of Full-Day Pre-K Seats Next Fall

By Colby Hamilton on December 19, 2013 8:06pm 

 Mayor-elect Bil de Blasio said ample space and teachers were available to begin the rollout of universal pre-K next fall during a press conference on December 19, 2013.
Mayor-elect Bil de Blasio said ample space and teachers were available to begin the rollout of universal pre-K next fall during a press conference on December 19, 2013.
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DNAinfo/Colby Hamilton

CROWN HEIGHTS — A vague but hopeful Mayor-elect Bill de Blasio promised Thursday that his signature plan of universal pre-K and expanded afterschool programs would be in place by next fall, adding "a lot" of new slots in the city schools, he said.

“The goal here is to figure out exactly how much we can put online before September 2014, and do it where it’s effective,” the Mayor-elect said.

De Blasio argued it was clear there were space and teachers aplenty throughout the city for a substantial number of children to begin full-day programs.

“We think the personnel is substantially there, the space is there. We have great models to work from in terms of pre-K and afterschool,” he said.

De Blasio said that his past experience — in the city council, as a school board member and as a parent — led him to believe that space remained available in public schools that could be used for pre-K. He pointed to the colocation of charter schools in public school buildings as evidence of the fact and said he would look to utilize that space for pre-K and afterschool programs.

There were also spaces that could be made available quickly, such as former Catholic school facilities, de Blasio said.

“We want to tap into the pieces we can put online immediately, versus the ones that are going to need some build out or, in some cases, even the creation of a pre-K center,” he said.

However, he said the details will come out of the universal pre-K working group he’s put together and could be months from being finalized.

His comments came during the announcement of a promised campaign-style rollout for universal pre-K at a early childhood learning center.

De Blasio introduced a bullpen of supporters from the civic, religious, nonprofit and business worlds who he said would be part of a coalition to put pressure on Albany to implement de Blasio’s plan to raise the taxes of higher income earners in the city to pay for the education expansion plan.

More information about the campaign can be found at www.upknyc.org.

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