UPPER EAST SIDE, NY — Hundreds of Upper East Side families sending their children to their first days of preschool this week can breathe a sigh of relief knowing they don't have to take their four-year-old's to school in Lower Manhattan.
Upper East Side and city school officials celebrated the Wednesday opening of a new, 180-seat pre-k center on East 76th Street for the 2019-2020 school year. The neighborhood has consistently had higher demand than capacity for universal pre-k seats since the policy launched in 2014, which forced some parents to find other schools in a district that stretches down the east side of Manhattan to Battery Park.
The Upper East Side has added pre-k seats each of the past five school years and now has a capacity of 1,122 seats compared to just 154 in 2014, according to city officials.
"On the Upper East Side we've increased the number of pre-kindergarten seats sevenfold, that started by recruiting community-based organizations then building our way out with three new centers boasting more than 400 new seats," City Councilman Kallos said in a statement.
Local Congressmember Carolyn Maloney said Wednesday that one of the most common complaints her office receives from neighborhood residents is the lack of pre-k seats on the Upper East side. The opening of the new East 76th Street center means "180 less calls," but also represents the "best investment" the city can make in young students.
With the addition of the East 76th Street pre-k center Manhattan's School District 2 now has the third largest pre-k center capacity in the city, Aneesha Jacko, director of District 2 pre-k centers, said Wednesday.
"We are thrilled to celebrate the opening of this new pre-k center — our teachers have been eagerly anticipating working all week. We can't wait to celebrate and welcome our new families for the first day of school," Jacko said.