Tag Archives: pre-kindergarten

Stats show universal pre-K’s limited reach in western, central Queens


| ejankiewicz@queenscourier.com

Photo by Rob Bennett for the Office of Mayor Bill de Blasio

Only 30 percent of 4-year-olds in parts of western and central Queens got into the pre-K of their choice, the lowest percentage of matched applicants in all of New York City.

Parents in Queens District 24 — Corona, Glendale, Ridgewood, Elmhurst, Long Island City, Maspeth and Middle Village — must now search for an alternative to public schools.

According to the Department of Education, the majority of parents with 4-year-olds — 70 percent — in the district recently received letters informing them that the public pre-K of their choice was already full.

In comparison, in Manhattan’s District 1 only 10 percent of applicants were unmatched and, overall, 38 percent of applicants throughout New York City were unmatched.

“Every single school in this district is overcrowded,” said Nick Comaianni, president of School Board District 24. “In the past we’ve actually had to get rid of pre-K seats to make room for kindergarten to fifth grade.”

As the city changes gears for Mayor Bill de Blasio’s aim to make pre-K universal, the DOE is using community-based organizations like local YMCAs and mom-and-pop pre-K programs to scoop up the applicants that didn’t get into a public school pre-K.

But Comaianni, who has been president of the board for 11 years, believes that the mayor’s office and the DOE are moving too fast.

“Someone should’ve done their homework before pushing pre-K through so quickly,” he said, noting that since the schools in the district are already overcrowded, there is no extra space for more students. “You can’t have pre-K if you don’t even have second grade.”

The DOE is opening up 53,000 full-day seats through community-based organizations in time for the new school year in September. While this will still leave some toddlers behind, by next year there will be 73,250 seats, enough to put every 4-year-old in New York City in school, according to education officials.

Which is just fine, Comaianni said, but warned: “In our haste to open these seats let’s hope we have qualified people who can teach pre-K and it’s not just a baby-sitting center.

Queens by school district:

Source: Office of Student Enrollment

 

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Op-ed: Why I support Mayor de Blasio’s plan for universal pre-K


| oped@queenscourier.com

COUNCILWOMAN JULISSA FERRERAS

There’s been a lot of discussion recently about Mayor Bill de Blasio’s plan for universal pre-kindergarten in New York City. Often overlooked is that the plan would provide more than just high-quality programs for our youngest learners, it would also fund after-school programs for every interested middle schooler in New York. As chairwoman of the City Council’s Finance Committee, I support the de Blasio plan because it’s such a cost-effective way to address one of the most pressing challenges the city faces. As the former director of an after-school program, I support the plan because I know firsthand how critical after-school support can be in developing and safeguarding adolescents. It’s inspiring that both the Assembly and Senate have put forward budget proposals that meet these goals.

As you probably know, the mayor’s plan – which the Assembly also supports – would modestly raise income tax rates for New York City earners making more than $500,000 a year, from 3.9 percent to 4.4 percent for a period of five years. That’s a smaller increase than previous mayors have sought from Albany for key projects, and still would generate $530 million in new revenue for each of those years. Much of that revenue would be used to create tens of thousands of pre-K slots for 4 year olds, but $190 million would be directed to after-school programs. The Senate Majority Conference proposes funding after-school for every middle school student through the budget. Both proposals offer the funding needed to make the historic expansion of after-school a reality in New York City.

The city currently offers a little more than 45,000 after-school slots, which serve 56,300 students (not every student goes every day) in 239 schools. Fully, one in four children are left alone and unsupervised after school ends, the time of day when juvenile crime and violence are at their highest, and there are 237 public schools in which middle-school-age children don’t have access to comprehensive after-school. The funding from the de Blasio plan would allow the city to increase the number of after-school spots to 95,000—an addition of about 68,800 new slots—across 512 local schools, serving 120,000 children. The goal is for every child who’s interested to be able to participate. Programs would be free, run from 3 p.m. to 6 p.m. and mostly be run by local organizations experienced in working in the community.

As a former director of one such organization, I spent years running after-school at P.S. 19, a Beacon program, and it was my privilege to watch the effect of high-quality programming on young people who would otherwise be falling behind. Just as early education, including pre-K, is vital to a child’s success later in life, after-school for young adolescents is a bridge that helps them maintain momentum—or, in the case of struggling students, a way to regain lost time and get back on track. Studies show that children who participate in these programs behave better in school, do better in class and on tests, and have improved attendance records. After-school programs also help kids identify subjects and disciplines they enjoy and in which they can excel.

The expansion of after-school programming under the de Blasio plan would be a win for everyone. Far more children would have access to programs that would help cultivate their interests and improve their performance in school, all while ensuring they’re under supervision and avoiding the kinds of trouble that can derail a promising young life. The Legislature must work with the governor to ensure that the funding needed for expanded after-school and universal pre-K is part of the State’s final budget.

Councilwoman Julissa Ferreras represents the 21st Council District encompassing Elmhurst, East Elmhurst, Corona and Jackson Heights. She is also the Chair of the City Council’s Committee on Finance.

Op-ed: Why we need Mayor de Blasio’s pre-k plan


| oped@queenscourier.com

COUNCILMEMBER DANIEL DROMM

As chair of the NYC Council Education Committee, it is a priority of mine to see Mayor Bill de Blasio’s universal pre-kindergarten plan enacted. The only viable way to ensure that our children get this extra year of education is to create a tax on the city’s most wealthy residents to help fund it.

Before teaching fourth grade for 25 years, I directed a preschool in Harlem. I saw firsthand how an extra year of socializing and learning helped set up these young learners of all social and ethnic backgrounds for a more productive educational career. Study after study has shown that quality pre-k works.

Pre-kindergarten isn’t just for the children.  It also lends a helping hand to their parents, especially single parents. At the first Education Committee hearing that I chaired on February 12, I heard from parents about how pre-kindergarten combined with after school care allows them to work a full day. Without pre-k, working mothers and fathers have to scramble to find someone to care for their children and often times have to scrape the bottom of their bank accounts to pay for childcare.

I believe it is not too much to ask of those who are making $500,000 or more a year to fund the program with a small tax increase that equals the price of a cup of latte from Starbucks every day. I totally disagree with those who say these wealthy residents may leave the city. New York City is the greatest city in the world and everybody wants to be here. Wealthy residents won’t leave just for the price of a cup of coffee. A tax on the wealthy is the right path.

Governor Andrew Cuomo’s plan to fund a statewide program without a designated tax has its pitfalls. Former Education Committee Chair Robert Jackson walked 150 miles to Albany to shine light on the unequitable amount of education funding NYC receives and won a court judgment for city schools. A decade later, more than $4 billion of that money has never made it to our public schools. That’s why we need a dedicated tax – a lockbox – to fund this program.

Pre-kindergarten is a win-win plan for everyone. It gives all children a better start with a chance at a better future. It gives parents the support they deserve to further contribute to the city’s vibrant economy.  And, most importantly, it provides New Yorkers with a bright future.

Councilmember Daniel Dromm is chair of the NYC Council Education Committee. He was elected to the New York City Council in 2009 and represents District 25 (Jackson Heights & Elmhurst).

 

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De Blasio details after-school program expansion plan


| ctumola@queenscourier.com

Updated 1:55 p.m.

Mayor Bill de Blasio released an interagency report Monday detailing plans to expand after-school programs to more public middle school students in the city.

The implementation would place programs in all schools with middle school students that do not currently have after-school services as well as non-public school sites, such as community centers and libraries, according to the report.

The expansion, like de Blasio’s plan for universal pre-kindergarten, will require an increase on local income tax for the city’s highest earners.

“This is a critical investment that will transform our schools—but it is also a powerful policy to keep kids out of trouble and fight the influences that can take them off the right path. We need the power to make this investment now,” the mayor said.

De Blasio said the city has “the capacity to ramp up immediately.” But what is still needed, however, is the funding, which would require approval from Albany for the tax increase.

The $190 million proposal will provide an additional 62,791 middle school students with the opportunity to attend free after-school programs, starting in September 2014.

Currently, the Department of Education and Department of Youth and Community Development provide after-school programs that serve approximately 56,369 students in 239 schools each year. The expansion will increase the number of schools with programs to 512.

Funding would also go toward boosting existing programs by increasing their hours of operation.

 

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Mayor de Blasio: City ready for pre-K plan if funding is secured


| ctumola@queenscourier.com

A progress report released by Mayor Bill de Blasio Tuesday shows the city has the capacity to implement his plan for universal pre-kindergarten starting this September—if the funding is available.

The report, “Ready to Launch,” found that though classroom space and quality programming is obtainable, securing funding for the plan remains the main challenge.

“This is real, this is achievable, but this something we can’t do without sustained dedicated resources,” de Blasio said.

In January, the mayor released his plan to provide free full-day pre-kindergarten for every 4-year-old in the city by increasing taxes on the wealthy.

The mayor would need permission from Albany for the increase, and could face roadblocks from state lawmakers.

At an average cost of $10,239 per child, 73,250 children would be eligible for full-day pre-kindergarten by the 2015-16 school year, beginning with 53,604 in September 2014.

The city needs 21,000 seats to meet its goal for this fall, according to the mayor. Since it began asking for proposals and applications from schools and community-based organizations, the Department of Education has received proposals for 29,000 seats.

The proposals also offer detailed plans on curriculum and how the schools and organizations will identify, train and support teaching staff.

“We already know demand from families for high quality, full-day pre-K is exceptionally high – and these numbers confirm that we are ready to deliver,” Schools Chancellor Carmen Fariña said.

“The number of sites and seats proposed far exceeds numbers from last year,” with a 93 percent jump in the number of full-day sites proposed compared to last year’s results, according to the report.

In Queens, 113 sites were proposed in 2013. This year, there were 214.

 

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De Blasio releases report, gives testimony in Albany on pre-K plan


| ctumola@queenscourier.com

Photo via Twitter/@NYCMayorsOffice

Mayor Bill de Blasio testified in Albany Monday on an interagency report he released the same day detailing plans to provide free full-day pre-kindergarten for every 4-year-old in the city by increasing taxes on the wealthy.

“The reality is that today, fewer than 27 percent of 4-year-olds in New York City have access to full-day pre-K,” the mayor said.

To authorize the tax hikes, he will need permission from Albany lawmakers.

Specifically, he is asking for an income tax surcharge, which would increase the current 3.9 percent rate to a 4.4 percent rate on those with annual incomes of a half-million dollars or more over the next five years.

It would also allow for the expansion of middle school extended learning programs, de Blasio said.

At an average cost of $10,239 per child, under the plan, 73,250 children would be eligible for full-day pre-kindergarten by the 2015-2016 school year, beginning with 53,604 in September 2014.

The total cost is estimated at $340 million annually, with $97 million dedicated to start-up infrastructure and costs required to upgrade program quality in the first year.

The plan will require approximately 2,000 new classrooms in public schools and community-based settings across the city, according to the Department of Education.

Governor Andrew Cuomo proposed a statewide plan for universal, full-day pre-kindergarten in his budget address last week, with an estimated cost of $1.5 billion over the next five years. The state would fully fund the program.

“That’s an idea we strongly endorse and we appreciate his leadership on this issue,” de Blasio said.

But he said the funding must be  “predictable and consistent,” and isolated from the state budget.

“Universal pre-K and after-school programs must have a dedicated funding stream, a locked box, shielded from what we all know is the inevitable give and take of the budgeting process,” the mayor said.

According to the report, proceeds from “the proposed personal income tax surcharge will be dedicated solely to the expansion and enhancement of New York City’s pre – kindergarten and after-school programs. The city will place these funds in a ‘lockbox.’”

Ready to Launch: New York City’s Implementation Plan for Free, High-Quality, Full-Day Universal Pre-Kinderg… by NYC Mayor’s Office

 

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