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Thousands of Kids Denied Pre-K Seats as Demand Exceeds Supply

By Amy Zimmer | June 5, 2014 5:29pm
 The Children's Aid Society East Harlem Center is a community-based early childhood education center that offers pre-K.
The Children's Aid Society East Harlem Center is a community-based early childhood education center that offers pre-K.
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DNAinfo/Jeff Mays

MANHATTAN — Thousands of families that applied for the city's free public school pre-K programs this year were turned away without a seat. 

The Department of Education received 41,178 applications for about 26,000 full- and half-day seats for the fall of 2014, leaving more than 15,000 kids without a spot, according to figures released Thursday.

Some of the city's most overcrowded districts received the brunt of the rejections.

In Queens' District 24, which includes Flushing, 70 percent of students were turned away. More than 60 percent of applicants in The Bronx's District 11, which covers the northeast Bronx along the Westchester border, received rejection letters, as did more than 60 percent of applicants in Brooklyn's District 20, which spans Bay Ridge, Borough Park and part of Sunset Park, DOE data showed.

Those who did not receive a public school pre-K spot can still apply to more than 30,000 other pre-K seats in community-based organizations (CBOs) that will be offered this fall.

"It’s not the end of the road," Mayor Bill de Blasio said in a statement. "There are hundreds of incredible community-based programs ready to provide a great pre-K experience, and we want every parent to take advantage of all the new choices out there."

Whether families received an offer or not in a public school pre-K program, all will be sent an application for a community-based early childhood center, DOE officials said.  For the first time ever, families can apply for CBO pre-K seats online at nyc.gov/prek rather than having to contact each center individually.

"There are many additional community-based options across all communities that will enable crucial vocabulary building, emotional learning and development," Schools Chancellor Carmen Fariña said in a statement. "I urge all families with 4-year-olds to apply and find the right program for their child.”

Parents who received an offer to a public school pre-K program have until June 20 to register with the school. Parents who are applying to CBO seats are encouraged to do so before June 26.

Additional full-day seats in public schools and community-based organizations will be announced in the coming weeks, school officials said.