When I ran for office in 2013, I campaigned for Universal Pre-Kindergarten. I wanted to expand from 20,000 children to all 68,000 four year-olds who qualified for free or subsidized Pre-Kindergarten. Once elected, in 2014, I joined Mayor de Blasio in advocating for funding for Universal Pre-Kindergarten from Albany and we won $300 million.
But in the spring of 2014, I was disappointed to learn when the 2014 Pre-Kindergarten Directory came out that the Upper East Side and Roosevelt Island only had 154 full day seats, for 2,767 four-year-olds as reported by WNYC.
By spring 2015, we double the number of seats to 323 but without enough seats on Roosevelt Island, we worked with the Roosevelt Island Parents Network to convert 18 half day seats at P.S./I.S. 217 to full day seats and doubled them to 36. By 2016, the Department of education was only offering 425 seats on the Upper East Side and Roosevelt Island.
In 2016 we continued our work with the Roosevelt Island Parents Network to announce 54 new seats at Roosevelt Island Day Nursery, and were also able to add 36 seats at Manhattan Schoolhouse, 20 seats to P.S. 183, 40 seats to P.S. 6 and 40 seats to Wagner Middle School for 190 new seats for a total of 618 seats.
In 2017 we lost seats and brought to the fight Congress Member Carolyn Maloney, Comptroller Scott Stringer, Public Advocate Tish James, Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer, Senator Liz Krueger, Assembly Member Rebecca Seawright, Assembly Member Dan Quart and Council Member Dan Garodnick. The School Construction Authority shared in response to my questioning that they were opening two new Pre-Kindergarten Centers on the Upper East Side, with two additional sites in consideration, all of which would open over one hundred seats for the 2018 – 2019 school year.
If you are interested in working with our office to identify new locations in public or private schools or even retail space please email UPK@Benkallos.com.