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Seats Still Open at Coveted Schools as Pre-K Deadline Nears, Officials Say

By Amy Zimmer | October 1, 2013 8:45am
 Pre-K kids at The STAR Academy in the East Village.
Pre-K kids at The STAR Academy in the East Village.
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DNAinfo/Serena Solomon

NEW YORK — As the deadline nears for this fall's universal pre-K programs, many schools and community-based organizations around the city still have vacant seats, Department of Education officials said.

Families — who have until Wednesday to sign up for public pre-K — may still be able to snag a spot in some of the most highly coveted programs, including Greenwich Village’s P.S. 41, Downtown’s Spruce Street School and Prospect Heights' Montessori Day School of Brooklyn, which still had seats available as of last week, according to the DOE’s website.

Competition has been fierce for pre-K seats in many neighborhoods, with acceptance rates at the most popular programs lower than Ivy League schools: less than 5 percent of the 4-year-olds who apply.

At P.S. 3 in Greenwich Village, for instance, an astounding 575 children applied for a pre-K seat in 2012, more than at any other school in Manhattan, DNAinfo reported. But as of Friday, P.S. 3 still had a few last-minute spots available for kids who want to enroll in this fall's program, the DOE's site said.

School officials didn't respond to an inquiry about how the sought-after programs still had available seats, but they did explain that parents were signing up on a rolling basis, so some of these schools might no longer have openings.

A DOE analysis found that third-through-fifth-graders who attended universal pre-K were 28 percent more likely to rate proficient on the state English exam and 54 percent more like to score as proficient on the state math exam when compared to their peers who did not attend the programs.

“The benefits of pre-K are widely known, and that’s why we’ve doubled down on it,” Schools Chancellor Dennis Walcott said in a statement. “We know college and career readiness doesn’t have to start in kindergarten — children can start school on that path by participating in high quality pre-K.”

High-quality early childhood programs are often credited with leading to higher incomes, a lower likelihood of drug use and less involvement in the criminal justice system, school officials said.

All children born in 2009 are eligible for universal pre-K for the 2013-2014 school year.