New York City will allow yeshivos unable to have a full-day prekindergarten the half-day alternative which had been available until last year, the de Blasio administration announced Tuesday, a development hailed by Agudath Israel of America as “wonderful news for many Orthodox Jewish children, parents and schools.”
Deputy Mayor Richard Buery wrote in a letter Monday that the half-day model will continue.
“While we continue to place an emphasis on full-day pre-K seats,” wrote Buery, who is responsible for setting up the pre-K program across the city, “there will be a half-day RFP to accommodate those families and providers for whom half-day is the best option.”
Yeshivos who had been able to run city-funded pre-K programs for 2-and-a-half hours a day until now had been particularly challenged by the new full-day requirement when Mayor Bill de Blasio instituted his universal prekindergarten program for this school year. A full day now meant 6 hours and 20 minutes, as opposed to the 5 hours in place until now.
Many religious schools have decided that the full-day option was not workable for 4-year-olds, who would have had to stay later for davening and religious instruction. Instead, they wanted to opt for the half-day model.
However, in a Request for Proposals (RFP) issued in early November, the city made no mention of future funding for half-day programs, leading to concern that the city was planning to foreclose on that option.
Rabbi Chaim Dovid Zwiebel, Agudath Israel’s executive vice president, thanked the administration “on behalf of thousands of young children in our community.”