New York City plans to expand its free preschool program citywide in September, Mayor Bill de Blasio said.
The city will add 16,500 more slots for 3-year-olds, bringing the total to 40,000 across all 32 school districts. There’s demand for 60,000 seats, city educators have said.
“We don’t have all the seats we want yet for September, but we will be in all districts,” de Blasio said Wednesday at a virus briefing.
Free prekindergarten has been a key goal for de Blasio, who took office in 2014 and is in his final year as mayor. The city started the effort for 4-year-olds and then added 3-year-olds a few years ago in select districts in the Bronx and Brooklyn. There are about 68,000 4-year-olds in the program, which has been a national model and is a “game-changer for so many families,” de Blasio said.
“Investments in early child education have a profound impact on families, and it creates the best foundation for a child’s education,” de Blasio said.
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.