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Where to Find Free Pre-K Seats for City’s Second Round of Admissions

By Amy Zimmer | May 2, 2016 10:14am
 A pre-K class at the Early Childhood Education Center at Brooklyn College.
A pre-K class at the Early Childhood Education Center at Brooklyn College.
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DNAInfo/Amy Zimmer

MANHATTAN — A record 85 percent of families received an offer to one of their top three choices for the city's free pre-K programs, with 71 percent of 68,000 applicants getting their top choice, according to the Department of Education.

But if you're not overjoyed with your placement — and roughly 10,000 families didn't get their top choices — take heart: There are still plenty of options.

The Department of Education kicked off the second round of admissions Monday, with nearly 65 new programs added to its roster. The DOE is also listing any program from Round 1 that still has available seats — revealing there are still spots in roughly 1,000 schools or early education centers across the city.

Under Mayor Bill de Blasio’s major pre-K expansion, the city expects to have enough free “full day” seats for the city’s roughly 70,000 children who turn 4 this year — and they are making all efforts possible to make sure those seats are filled.

It’s the first time ever the DOE is providing a single online application for all programs in the second round, in a bid to make things easier for families. Previously, families could apply online for new programs only but had to individually contact other programs to find out about availability. The second round is also a month earlier than last year, as the whole process was moved up to help parents and schools sort out their options earlier.

“This is an exciting time for our 4-year-olds and their families," Deputy Chancellor Josh Wallack said. “Pre-K for All is about serving the children and families of New York, and we are doing that by moving the application process up a month, planning to better match seats and family demand, and making the Round 2 admissions process simpler for families."


The overcrowded Queens’ District 24, which spans Corona and Elmhurst to Long Island City and Middle Village, has the largest number of new programs in the city, with 10 additional pre-K centers. That includes 126 seats at the DOE-run Mosaic Pre-K Center at 97-36 43rd Ave., in the newly built I.S. 311 building, and 36 seats at the Mosaic Pre-K Center at 106-02 Northern Blvd., both in the high-demand neighborhood of Corona.

In the kid-booming area of Yorkville in Manhattan’s District 2, there are free pre-K seats now at the Manhattan Schoolhouse. Tuition at the private preschool, which was started by two moms on First Avenue between 84th and 85th streets and offers music, art, yoga and French or Spanish classes, normally costs $2,300 a month for 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. (For the city's free programs, "full day" is 6 hours and 20 minutes.)  Also in District 2, across the East River on Roosevelt Island, the Roosevelt Island Day Nursery, a program started by Island parents in 1975 — which usually costs more than $25,000 a year, as well, including the extended hours — now has a contract with the DOE to offer 54 free "full day" seats.

There are also still seats at District 15’s DOE-run Little Brooklyn Pre-K Center at Bishop Ford School Site, an inquiry-based program with an array of enrichment, like science and art. The massive program in Windsor Terrace/Park Slope —with roughly 500 seats in a former Catholic school building — is considered the crown jewel of the city’s expanded pre-K program.

The Upper West Side’s District 3 has among the fewest options in Round 2, with open seats at only 14 existing programs.

To accept a pre-K offer from Round 1, families need to pre-register by May 20, as per to the instructions of their offer letter.

You can still get off of a waitlist elsewhere and apply for programs in Round 2 even if you’ve pre-registered at your offer from Round 1. And applying in Round 2 won't affect your waitlist status at schools from your first round of applications, school officials explained.

"We encourage families to pre-register for their seat by May 20, and we'll continue to work tirelessly to ensure every family knows about the benefits of pre-K and is able to apply during the next round of admissions," Wallack said.

List of Pre-K sites with open seats below: