New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio’s call for universal, full-day pre-kindergarten demands 17,000 new seats citywide by fall, which is causing some head butting with Queens communities, where the greatest portion of new seats is needed.
The mayor’s office has cited studies in its push for “Universal Pre-K for All,” showing that students enrolled in full-day pre-K are better prepared for kindergarten, and score better in math, language and reading.
But to make room for so many new full-day seats, the city is reaching beyond just those new pre-K programs that apply. The DOE selected three public schools in Queens to house new pre-K programs: PS 58 School of Heroes in Maspeth; Winchester PS 18 in Queens Village; and PS 100 Glen Morris in South Ozone Park.
The city has also planned temporary pre-kindergarten classes at five public schools in District 30, which covers Long Island City, Jackson Heights and Astoria as plans develop for a new stand-alone pre-K center to house those seats in later years.
The DOE has been reluctant to describe these locations as “co-locations,” for which an approval process is required, because the pre-K classes don’t really change the use of the public school buildings.
But some of the buildings might be giving up classroom or administrative space to be outfitted for the use of 4-year-old kids. The state-mandated PEP process for instances when two or more schools share a building requires applicants to inform the district community about the plans, gather public input and to gain approval from the Panel for Educational Policy. It’s about a six-month process.
District 30 CEC President Jeffrey Guyton said mayoral priorities have pushed the pre-K expansion on families without any community input, and he cited the bypassing of co-location requirements as a good example.