Overcrowding in East Side public schools threatens to deny a generation of children their constitutional right to a "<a href="http://www.cfequity.org/" target="_BLANK"><strong>sound basic education.</strong></a>" We must make more school seats available now, build more schools to keep up with current development, and investigate new solutions for building educational infrastructure.<br><br>I have a strong commitment to public education that stems from being a graduate of the <a href="http://www.bxscience.edu/" target="_BLANK"><strong>Bronx High School of Science</strong></a>, State University of New York's <a href="http://www.albany.edu/" target="_BLANK"><strong>University at Albany</strong></a> and <a href="http://law.buffalo.edu/" target="_BLANK"><strong>University at Buffalo Law School</strong></a>. I helped create Community Board 8’s Youth and Education Committee, identified a <a href="http://kallosforcouncil.com/sites/default/files/DYCD_Bus.pdf" target="_BLANK"><strong>Free Yellow Bus Program</strong></a> for local youth service providers, and created an internship program to better serve the youth and education needs of our community. As your Council member I will continue to fight for increased funding for youth services and education.
Before opening day, Department of Education and City Hall flacks assured The Post that the city didn’t face a driver shortage. Oops. Nor has the DOE rolled out its long-promised bus-tracking app.
“Parents are worried enough about the Delta variant; they shouldn’t have worry about where their children are” aboard a city school bus, says Manhattan Councilman Ben Kallos, who wrote the law mandating the GPS-tracking system. He also says the tech for the app is stuck sitting on a shelf at the DOE’s HQ.
Meanwhile, state Comptroller Tom DiNapoli says the mayor is leaving a ticking DOE fiscal time bomb for his successor: New initiatives launched with federal assistance will impose costs of $1 billion a year by 2025, as the grants run out.
But that doesn’t guarantee drivers will know their routes: In past years, that’s taken days and even weeks to sort out. The bus-tracking app, which DOE promised after a paralyzing snowstorm in November 2018 trapped kids for hours aboard school-buses, has yet to show. City Councilman Ben Kallos (D-Manhattan) says the technology is just sitting on a shelf at Tweed.
Bill de Blasio, Mayor, City Hall, New York, NY 10007 Meisha Porter, Chancellor Department of Education Tweed, 52 Chambers Street New York, NY 10007 Nina Kubota, President School Construction Authority 30-30 Thomson Avenue Queens, NY 11101
Dear Mayor de Blasio, Chancellor Porter, and President Kubota,
We are now less than 3 weeks away from the May 28 deadline for parents to apply for 3-K, and there are too few 3-K options for School District 2, which covers much of Manhattan. In order to take on this immediate crisis, please (1) direct public schools to make space available, (2) lease and build out new pre-kindergarten centers to accommodate 3 and 4-year-olds, and (3) open contracts for expansions by existing providers and applications from new providers.
We have a long history of working together to find and secure providers and spaces to accommodate the need for pre-kindergarten on the Upper East Side and Roosevelt Island. After seven years of fighting for universal free pre-kindergarten to serve three and four-year-olds on the Upper East Side, I am grateful for the expansion to every neighborhood in the city for the 2021–22 school year. At the announcement, I noted our partnership, and the need to work together to find new seats. However, since then, despite work on the part of my office, we have not received any information as to your progress, or any sign of the same level of cooperation we’ve had in the past that successfully secured more seats for our children.
We are less than three weeks away from the May 28 deadline for parents to apply for 3-K, and there are only 36 providers in School District 2, which runs from the southern tip of Manhattan to East 100th Street. There are no providers below 23rd street or on Roosevelt Island, and only one on the Upper East Side. There are 2,966 four-year-olds enrolled in pre-kindergarten in District 2 as of the 2019 – 2020 school year, which should provide a reasonable expectation for the seat need we will have for three-year-olds.
Direct Public Schools to Make Space Available for 3-K
Declining enrollment in our public schools during the pandemic offers an opportunity to fill these seats with three-year-olds.
This school year saw a 4% decline in enrollment, a loss of 43,000 students, with pre-kindergarten down 13% and kindergarten down 9%, across the city. Neighborhoods in Manhattan were among the hardest hit by families leaving the city during the pandemic, leading to elementary schools in
District 2 losing students at a higher-than-average number, according to Chalkbeat. Two elementary schools in District 2 lost more than 20% of their enrollment: P.S. 234 lost 171 students (-26.76%) and P.S. 89 lost 104 students (-23.11%). On the Upper East Side, P.S. 158 Bayard Taylor lost 130 students (-16.19%) and P.S. 290 Manhattan New School lost 101 students (-17.50%). Upper East Side elementary schools and K–8 lost a combined total of 543 students. Although we might expect some of these students to return, a portion of these 543 seats could accommodate 3-K and could meet half the neighborhood’s need for this September.
Many of these schools have shared concerns that existing pre-kindergarten seats were underfunded, and that public health guidance during the pandemic has been inconsistent and changed from day to day with little warning from the Department of Education, including changes relating to the 6-foot rule, 3-foot rule, meals, and indoor spaces. These concerns have left public schools reticent to welcome a new 3-K program.
To address these concerns, the Mayor and Chancellor must increase funding for 3 and 4-year-old students in public schools, expand funding to cover overhead, and provide immediate clear and consistent guidance on reopening this coming school year. Furthermore, the Mayor and Chancellor must mandate that public schools that have seen declines in enrollment accept new 3- K classes on at least a temporary basis until enrollment is stabilizes.
Lease and Build Out New Pre-Kindergarten Centers to Accommodate 3 and 4-year-olds
The Department of Education and the School Construction Authority can and must fill large empty storefronts with pre-kindergarten centers.
New York City faced a blight of empty storefronts even before the pandemic. Ever-rising rents have even begun forcing out national chains and big box stores, leading the Center for Urban Future to begin studying the phenomenon more than a decade ago. While many chains have a small footprint, some have very large footprints that can accommodate pre-kindergarten centers including Duane Reade which closed 64 locations, Rite Aid which closed 10 locations, and many others.
On the Upper East Side, we’ve built out three new pre-kindergarten centers. One was built as part of new construction, another was added to a building that already contained a public school, and the last involved the conversion of a former garage to a new school. We’ve proven the model works here and all over the city.
Our office has submitted multiple large vacant storefronts, from all over the neighborhood, but we have not received updates from the Department of Education and the School Construction Authority. Please provide an immediate response for the locations provided and a list of other sites in consideration.
The time is now to fill our vacant storefronts and build out the infrastructure our city’s working families need in order to care for their children.
Open Contracts for Expansions by Existing Providers and Applications from New Providers
Our community-based organizations that are both non-profit and for-profit can help us address immediate and long term need for 3-K. The Department of Education must immediately open contracts for existing providers to expand, and new providers to join the free pre-kindergarten program.
Many community-based providers who already offer free pre-kindergarten in partnership with the Department of Education have multiple locations. Often, each location is structured as its own corporation to limit liability, despite common ownership and operations. The Department of Education has taken the position that these providers cannot add seats from additional locations. This must be immediately corrected. Existing providers should be able to add additional seats at any locations under common ownership or operations. We need the seats now.
There are many community-based providers who never participated in universal pre kindergarten, in part because of a low reimbursement rate per student and a failure by the Department of Education to account for overhead costs, such as the high cost of rent in Manhattan. Mayor de Blasio recently announced full funding for indirect rates for city contracted non-profits. In a similar vein, community-based providers should be able to submit CPA-certified financials to demonstrate overhead costs, such as Manhattan rent. The Department of Education should provide additional funding to cover the share of rent devoted to these programs and increase per-student funding.
Without enough seats in our public schools and our existing community-based providers, the Department of Education must immediately open the contracting process for new providers with an expedited timeline to open by September.
Between filling seats in existing public schools, leasing vacant storefronts, expanding seats with existing providers and adding new providers, we have a shot at getting the 3-K seats we need for this September, but we must act now.
City Councilman Ben Kallos is pushing legislation that would waive application fees for city public school students hoping to enroll at CUNY colleges.
Roughly 75,000 Department of Education kids apply to the public schools each year and pay $65 to do so.
“It’s unacceptable that right now, a 17-year-old can be told by a high school guidance counselor their rent-burdened single mother isn’t poor enough to get a break on hundreds of dollars of fees to apply to colleges and compete for scholarships,” said Kallos, who co-sponsored the bill introduced last week.
Overall, the initiative would cost the city roughly $4.8 million.
Around 75,000 New York City public schools students apply to CUNY colleges every year.
Erik McGregor/LightRocket via Getty Images
“This legislation is about bringing more access and equity to the families that struggle,” he said. “A $65 fee should not be what prevents a talented kid from getting into a CUNY.”
The largest urban university system in the country, CUNY currently runs 11 senior campuses along with seven community colleges across the boroughs.
Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer is co-sponsoring Councilman Ben Kallos’ effort.
Stefan Jeremiah for New York Post
The schools currently enroll roughly 275,000 students.
Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer is co-sponsoring the legislation.
Mayoral candidate and Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams also supports the effort.
Ron Adar / M10s / MEGA
“College application fees can be a financial burden for our public school students,” she said. “This legislation will make applying to CUNY more accessible for high schoolers and will help make their dreams of a college education possible.”
Mayoral candidate and current Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams is also backing the push.
City Councilmember Ben Kallos, Assemblymember Rebecca Seawright and U.S. Rep. Carolyn Maloney spoke Tuesday outside Eleanor Roosevelt High School. (Office of City Councilmember Ben Kallos)
UPPER EAST SIDE, NY — A cohort of Upper East Side politicians and educators celebrated the billions of dollars heading to New York City as part of the federal stimulus package, highlighting the funding for schools in a news conference Tuesday.
The $1.9-trillion American Rescue Plan includes $5.2 billion for 3-K, pre-K and other education funding for New York, according to U.S. Rep. Carolyn Maloney, who spoke Tuesday morning outside Eleanor Roosevelt High School.
Maloney said the funding would help schools safely reopen during the pandemic and fund universal 3-K across the city's school districts
When Mayor Bill de Blasio launched his free universal pre-Kindergarten program in 2014, the Upper East Side was only allotted 100 seats. It was a blow to parents in the neighborhood, where need greatly outsized availability. In the intervening years, the number of pre-K slots steadily grew to universal access, with about 70,000 four-year-olds currently enrolled across New York City.
This week the de Blasio administration announced the city is using federal stimulus funds to expand its free universal 3K program to every school district in the city – amounting to an additional 16,500 seats and 40,000 seats total – by this fall, and UES City Council Member Ben Kallos said he is already doing everything he can to ensure his district gets its fair share of those spots this time around.
“We’ve already gotten all hands on deck in my office to reach out to every provider that currently offers pre-K and every school that currently offers pre-K to find out how many additional seats they can accommodate,” Kallos, who is term-limited and running for Manhattan Borough President, told Our Town. Seats in the 3K program come from city-funded private daycare providers, DOE preschools, Head Start classes and home-based childcare programs.
Kallos said he’s contacting co-op boards looking for empty storefronts and keeping tabs on empty Duane Reeds for the city to potentially buy and convert to facilities for the 3K program.
“I’m going to spend the next six months, hopefully, working with parents, providers, and the real estate community to scale up as many seats as quickly as possible,” said Kallos. “I want as many of those seats to come to the Upper East Side as possible.”
City, in partnership with City Council, will expand free, full-day, high-quality early childhood education to an additional 16,500 three-year-olds across New York City
NEW YORK—Mayor Bill de Blasio and Schools Chancellor Meisha Porter today announced that in partnership with City Council, 3-K for All will expand to the remaining sixteen community school districts in the 2021-22 school year – bringing free, full-day, high-quality 3-K to up to 16,500 more three-year-olds across New York City. By this fall, the City will support approximately 40,000 3-K seats across all 32 community school districts.
In addition to expanding to School Districts 1, 12, 14, and 29 this fall as previously announced, the City will expand to offer 3-K to as many families as possible in the remaining sixteen school districts: 2, 3, 10, 11, 13, 15, 17, 18, 20, 21, 22, 24, 25, 26, 28 and 30. 3-K is already offered to every three-year-old in School Districts 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 16, 19, 23, 27, 31, and 32.
“3K has been invaluable for so many kids and working families across our city,” said Mayor Bill de Blasio. “Now, as we build a recovery for all of us, we are bringing 3K to every district across our city, giving more kids the quality head start they need to grow and thrive.”
“Providing a high-quality education to every New York City student starts with our youngest children, and I’m thrilled to expand 3-K for All to reach every district citywide and bring access to thousands more three-year-olds and their families during this critical time,” said Schools Chancellor Meisha Porter. “These programs provide children with an invaluable head start in school and life, and I encourage families to explore the 3-K and Pre-K for All options available in their communities and apply.”
Like Pre-K for All, 3-K for All relies on the partnership of community-based organizations, including Head Start programs, child care agencies, and family child care providers. The timing of the expansion aligns with the culmination of the City’s historic commitment to achieve pay parity for certified early childhood education teachers by October 2021, a goal which is on track to be met. Achieving a pathway to pay parity between early childhood educators in community-based organizations and those working in district schools completes the promise made by the Mayor and City Council to the provider community during summer 2019, as part of agreements with District Council 37, the Day Care Council of New York, and the Head Start Sponsoring Board Council, as well as a commitment to non-represented teachers. Certified teachers saw phased-in wage increases beginning in October 2019. Non-certified teachers and support staff have also seen increases in compensation.
3-K for All is the nation’s most ambitious effort to provide universal, free, full-day, high-quality early childhood education for every three-year-old child and builds on the success of Pre-K for All. High-quality 3-K helps to make sure children are prepared for kindergarten and have a strong start in school and life.
“My daughter is 3 years old, and 3K for All is a lifeline that will make it easier for countless families like mine to stay in New York City and thrive. After this pandemic forced our children into isolation for a year, New York City parents will be relying on 3K for All to help our children catch up,” said Council Member Ben Kallos. “Child care on the Upper East Side starts at $30,000 and that’s if you can get a seat. Few can afford this and it’s forcing families out. 3K for All is a game changer, giving every child the fair start that they deserve. Countless families including mine are breathing a sigh of relief with today’s announcement. I know I’ve been persistent about getting UPK and now 3K rolled out, but this was too important for our children’s future to leave it up to the next administration. I want to thank Mayor Bill de Blasio for staying true to his word in making Universal Pre-Kindergarten a reality and now 3K for All by 2021. When it is safe to do so I am giving the Mayor a hug.”
The service is worth about $10,000 to the average family, according to new Schools Chancellor Meisha Porter. The stimulus-relief package made the expansion possible, according to the mayor.
“That’s quite a legacy that will be felt by countless families,” said Ben Kallos, a Democratic councilman representing Manhattan’s Upper East Side, where he said preschool spots typically cost $30,000 a year.
A cavalcade of City Council members who've long pushed for universal 3-K joined de Blasio and Porter. Council Member Ben Kallos noted he has a 3-year-old daughter himself and said his family will be applying for the program.
"Mayor de Blasio, I've been asking for this for so many years, what will we talk about?" Kallos said.
De Blasio said the ultimate goal for the program is about 60,000 slots for children.