MANHATTAN — Enrollment is now open for the city's free public pre-K seats — and parents will have several weeks more to apply in order to take advantage of the possible addition of thousands of seats to the program.
The Department of Education began accepting applications Monday for about 16,000 full-day pre-K seats and 7,000 half-day seats at schools across the five boroughs.
Mayor Bill de Blasio hopes to add up to another 21,000 full-day seats within the next month, assuming he can strike a funding deal with Gov. Andrew Cuomo, which means parents may have even more options before pre-K applications are due April 23.
"We're open for business," Schools Chancellor Carmen Fariña said at a press conference Monday.
The DOE is making a major push to let families know about the free public pre-K seats, including subway and bus shelter ads, phone banking, recorded phone messages, neighborhood canvassing and social media outreach. To kick off the campaign, Fariña began calling parents of 4-year-olds who live in public housing on the phone on Monday.
“This kind of attention has never been done before,” Fariña said of the pre-K outreach program. “Generally, it’s been word-of-mouth.”
The deadline for pre-K applications was originally set for April 1, but Fariña said Monday that it had been extended to April 23 to give parents more time to submit or revise their applications once — or if — additional pre-K seats are announced, depending on funding.
Families can apply to public school pre-K programs online or in-person at a Borough Enrollment Office. Despite the extended deadline, the notification process will remained unchanged, with decision letters sent in early June, and pre-registration will last from June 9 through 20, school officials said.
The city also offers 4,000 more free full-day pre-K seats and nearly 30,000 half-day seats at community-based organizations, which run their own admissions process and each require a separate application.
Whether parents submit applications this week or next month, all applications will be given equal consideration as long as they're sent before the deadline.
Pre-K information sessions will be held in each of the five boroughs over the next two weeks.