De Blasio: Nearly 22,000 Register for Pre-K on 1st Day

NEW YORK (AP) -

Mayor Bill de Blasio announced on Tuesday that nearly 22,000 New York City parents signed up their children on the first day of registration for pre-kindergarten, a signature program of his administration.

The program is expanding from 53,000 children this year to more than 70,000 this September. De Blasio said the city is ready for the massive influx of 4-year-olds and touted the rise in early applicants as “an amazing example of how much this has captured the imagination of parents.”

Last year, 6,500 parents signed up their children on the first day.

Administration officials said they have found additional space in the city’s already crowded schools to accommodate more children, and are also using space in community-based organizations like religious schools, social service groups and libraries.

In future years, the city is also looking to build new structures that will solely act as pre-kindergarten buildings, officials said. Despite a search for space, the city has been picky in awarding contracts to community-based organizations; they have rejected 45 percent of facilities that applied.

This year’s registration period, which began Monday, ends April 24 and offers a streamlined online process. The mayor’s office has estimated that the program saves families about $10,000 a year in child care costs.