Lawmakers Call for Release of Half-Day Pre-K for Yeshivos

NEW YORK -

Lawmakers called on Mayor Bill de Blasio to allow yeshivos that did not join the full-day pre-kindergarten program to be allowed to provide it for a half day.

Saying the “full-day pre-K promise has not materialized for yeshivah parents,” Councilmen David Greenfield and Mark Levine want them to be given an RFP for half day, which many of them had until this year.

“The sad truth is that the program was rolled out in a way that makes it very difficult for the overwhelming majority of yeshivos to participate,” Greenfield said. At the same time, he added, “the most recent RFP eliminates [half day] completely.”

Until this year, about 85 yeshivos ran pre-K programs, either 2.5 hours for half day or 5 hours for full day. After taking office, de Blasio expanded the full-day program to 6.2 hours a day. This made it difficult for yeshivos, who need time for religious education. As a result, only 24 yeshivos are now offering full day, totaling 1,174 new seats, or about 16 percent of those eligible — with no half- day programs available.

“UPK was meant to be truly universal,” said Levine, an Upper West Side Democrat who chairs the Jewish Caucus. “Without the half-day UPK option, tens of thousands of children are denied the benefits of this important program.”