Our Town As the mayor announced that he would expand the free universal program to every school district in the city, Kallos is hoping to scale up seats on the UES by EMILY HIGGINBOTHAM|
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.”