Some NYC Yeshivos Denied Pre-K Invited to Reapply

NEW YORK -

Some yeshivos who had their applications denied for New York City’s new universal full-day prekindergarten program over the weekend, received letters Tuesday inviting them to reapply.

At least 20 out of the more than 80 yeshivos who applied were stunned to receive rejection letters, including some who had been approved in previous years for the half-day program.

The rejections, which included most of Boro Park’s yeshivos and girls schools, has led to speculation among some administrators that the standards are simply too high a bar for religious institutions to climb.

But an administrator who was rejected contacted Hamodia on Tuesday and said that he was now invited to resubmit his application.

“Your site originally received a non-award because you did not pass our quality threshold,” said the letter, signed by Christopher McKay, operations manager of the city’s Department of Education division of early childhood for Brooklyn and Staten Island. , you now have an opportunity to submit additional documentation for us to reconsider.”

The administrator was given a new deadline for this Thursday to submit an “addendum … and we will evaluate them.”

The addendum merely requested “a more robust description of how instructional strategies will promote higher order thinking skills,” along with some other technicalities.

The original letters stated that the applications were denied due to “Failed Quality Threshold.”

Devora Kaye, a spokeswoman for the Dept of Education, told Hamodia in an emailed statement on Monday that the rate of denials to yeshivos is roughly the same as in the broader school system.

“Dozens of organizations with religious affiliations have been awarded contracts for full day Pre-K,” Kaye said. “Roughly half that applied were awarded, and this is similar to our overall rate for community-based partners across the city. Those decisions were based on our standards that ensure this is one singular system with one standard of excellence for each and every program.”

A signature campaign issue for Mayor Bill de Blasio, free Pre-K was granted by the state with a $300 million allocation — provided he could fill 53,000 slots this upcoming school year and 73,000 for the 2016 year. The mayor is trying to reach that goal by specifying what religious institutions may or may not do.

For example, mezuzos are permitted but not a shelf full of sefarim. The biggest issues for yeshivos — a mandatory 180-day school year and 6 and a half hours of instruction, including on Fridays — were the biggest hurdle. De Blasio has given conflicting statements on how he plans to reconcile them.

The city’s Orthodox population is estimated to have about 8,000 to 10,000 children eligible for Pre-K — a big chunk of the applicants needed for the administration to reach its target. The city is offering $7,500 per student — $9,000 if it is run by an educator with a degree.