An all-out push to encourage New York City parents to sign up for the city’s expanded free pre-K program seems to have paid off for new Mayor Bill de Blasio.
The New York Times reports that applications for the program rose 36 percent this year, with more than 41,600 applications filed by Wednesday’s deadline, far outstripping last year’s 30,500.
The number of applications the city received also exceeds the number of full-day prekindergarten spots available at public schools. Even with the planned expansion, only 20,400 such spots will be available in the fall.
Parents will learn in June whether their children will get one of the available seats in the city’s public schools. If they do not get in, they can join a waiting list or sign up for one of the 33,000 additional free full-day spots that will be provided by community groups, according to The Times.
The high enrollment numbers are a vindication of sorts for Mayor de Blasio, who ran on a campaign to provide free pre-K to every 4-year-old in the city.
De Blasio hoped to pay for the expansion by levying an additional tax on city residents who earned more than $500,000 a year, a plan that required state approval. While the legislature did not approve the tax, it agreed to provide $300 million in funding to expand early-childhood education.
A version of this news article first appeared in the District Dossier blog.