Families & the Community

Public Prekindergarten Programs Threatened in New York City

By Julie Rasicot — March 30, 2012 1 min read
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We’ve reportedthat shrinking budgets have forced some states to stop expanding and, in some cases, cut back on existing public prekindergarten programs.

Now comes news from New York City that parents are pushing to eliminate prekindergarten programs in public schools. They want to make room for their incoming kindergartners who have been waitlisted for their neighborhood schools.

Parents are angry because hundreds of kids have been waitlisted for schools in several neighborhoods, including lower Manhattan, Chelsea, the West Village, and the Upper East Side, according to news reports.

Though the Department of Education has said that all students will get into kindergarten somewhere, parents are worried that their children will end up in schools far from home and they’ll have to consider private options.

So they are demanding that the Department of Education get rid of pre-K programs at the neighborhood schools to provide seats for their kindergartners. But moving the programs out of the schools could lead to worse overcrowding later, according to local education officials.

That’s because the pre-K programs also serve kids from outside a school’s zone, but those students aren’t guaranteed kindergarten seats. Adding more kindergarten seats increases a school’s enrollment through 5th grade, the officials said.

There’s always the possibility that some waitlisted kids will get seats as pre-registered families choose other options.

There’s no word, though, on what happens to the kids who would be shut out of prekindergarten if those programs cease to exist.

A version of this news article first appeared in the Early Years blog.