The de Blasio administration estimates that tens of New York City yeshivos sent in an application to set up prekindergarten classes as of the latest deadline which passed on May 26, Hamodia has learned.
With the public school application process closed, Mayor Bill de Blasio is urging parents of 4-year-olds to apply for one of the approximately 17,000 slots that go for non-public schools. About 8,000 of them are expected to be in yeshivos.
According to a list released by the mayor’s office last week, there are 27 yeshivos in Brooklyn that had their pre-k programs already approved by the Department of Education, including many in Boro Park.
Since then, a City Hall source told Hamodia, an additional “several dozen yeshivas” have applied before the final deadline last week Monday. They will hear from the city over the summer.
At the Agudath Israel dinner last Tuesday evening, de Blasio said, “Our pre-k program will have a strong yeshivot element to it — and I’m very proud of that fact.”
On Monday, the Department of Education announced a third round of requests for Request for Proposals (RFP) from yeshivos who want to start a pre-k program next year.
Yeshivos must submit a notice of intent by June 16, with the final RFP deadline detailing how their program will work by July 7.
A notice of intent or an RFP does not mean that the yeshivah is committing to a pre-k class.
The city’s challenge now is to convince parents to send their children to a pre-k program, of which there are 10,000 across the city.
De Blasio announced last week that his administration is embarking on a $600,000 ad splurge to convince parents to apply for full-day pre-k, a main plank of his election campaign last year. The ads will appear in English and Spanish newspapers, radio stations and online, as well as on subways, buses and bus shelters.
According to a source in the Department of Education, the ad buy does not include Jewish media, but it may be part of future expenditures. In the meantime, the department is conducting outreach to communities via text messages and phone calls, canvassing neighborhoods, hosting informational events, as well as working with community and religious organizations.
The ads feature the slogan “Opportunity Starts Now” and urge parents to apply by June 26. All New York City children turning 4 this year are eligible to begin pre-k in September. There is no fee and no income eligibility level.
While de Blasio said that 17,000 slots will be available for community-based organizations such as yeshivos, out of a total of 53,000 seats in the city overall, an earlier press release stated that 25,000 places will be for CBOs. A spokesman for the education department promised to look into the discrepancy but did not get back by press time.
Applications for a pre-k program in public school expired in April. However, it is still open in private schools, which have their own schedule and application process. There have been two application rounds for yeshivos to indicate they may set up such a program, aside for the one released on Monday.
The administration announced last month it would ease some of the terms that address many of the obstacles to religious schools’ participation in the past, such as lengths of school days and year, as well as hiring practices.
Overall, there are currently 20,000 pre-k slots in the city, which de Blasio hopes to bump up to 53,000 for the coming school year, and 73,000 for the 2015 year. Granted $300 million by the state, the city is offering $7,500 per child in pre-k, or $9,000 if it is run by a director with a Master’s degree in education.