With Election Looming, Bill de Blasio Expands Pre-K for Toddlers

NEW YORK, NY - SEPTEMBER 4: New York Mayor Bill de Blasio (Center-R), along with schools Chancellor Carmen Farina (L), First Lady Chirlane McCray (Center-L), and Queens Borough President Melinda Katz (R), visits Pre-K classes at Home Sweet Home Children's School in Queens on the first day of NYC public schools, September 4, 2014 in the Queens borough of New York City. New York Mayor Bill de Blasio is touring universal pre-kindergarten programs throughout the city. (Photo by Susan Watts-Pool/Getty Images)

Mayor Bill de Blasio, Chancellor Carmen Farina and First Lady Chirlane McCray visit pre-K classes in Queens. Susan Watts-Pool/Getty Images

With the Nov. 7 election around the corner, Mayor Bill de Blasio announced Thursday that he is expanding a program that provides free, full-day early childhood education for all 3-year-old children to six community school districts throughout the city over the next four years.

The city is bringing “3K for All” to Community School District 27 in Queens and District 4 in East Harlem in September 2019. The following September, the city will expand it to District 9 in the Bronx and District 31 on Staten Island. In September 2020, the city will bring it to District 19 in East New York and District 29 in southeast Queens.

De Blasio said that when he took office, there were roughly 20,000 kids in full-day pre-K and that that number jumped to about 70,000 under his leadership. But he said that “there’s never been kids at the 3-year-old level in New York City public schools.”

“Now I have to tell you, this will take a lot of work,” he said. “This one is in some ways even harder than what we did with pre-K and it is certainly in many ways even higher impact because it’s never been done.”

“It’s gonna be harder because we already know from our experiences with pre-K space is a real issue and there’s some districts where we have more space and some where we have less and that’s part of what is gonna be crucial over these next four years to build out the space in time for the full expansion,” de Blasio continued.

So far, the city has introduced “3K for Al”l in District 7 in the South Bronx and District 23 in the Brownsville section of Brooklyn.

In order to reach all of the school districts, the city will need $700 million in state and federal funds. The mayor said that the city will not need that money until 2021.

The funding for the eight school districts, he said, will come exclusively from the city budget and cost about $180 million. He noted that the funding is already being planned in the budget process.

“The additional resources will be necessary to reach the other 24 districts and obviously we’ll be putting a lot of energy and time into that over the coming years but we don’t need that right away because we are accounting for this growth pattern going up to eight districts in our own budget process,” he added.

With Election Looming, Bill de Blasio Expands Pre-K for Toddlers