City Expanding Universal 3-K to All City Districts

Mayor Bill de Blasio at the first day of the 2018-19 school year at PS 377 in Ozone Park, Queens. (Michael Appleton/Mayoral Photography Office)

The free preschool for three-year old’s championed by Mayor Bill de Blasio will expand to all city school district after years of delays.

Parents were “struggling with so much before this last year, and are going to be dealing with a lot in the year’s ahead as we recover,” de Blasio said at his press conference on Wednesday. “If you want to help a working family, give them free early childhood education.”

Praising the program as “accessible, easy, and free,” de Blasio boasted that the city’s program was a national model, and noted the Biden administration was considering a national plan for free public preschools for working parents.

There are currently 25,000 children in the city’s “3K” programs, and another 16,500 will join this upcoming September for a total of 40,000 students. De Blasio said that current capacity is 60,000, and the city will be looking to expand the program over the next two years.

“This is going to be a huge expansion,” de Blasio said, noting the program will now be eligible in all 32 districts, even if the number of seats are limited. “This is a huge step to the day when 3K becomes a fully universal right in New York City, just as pre-K is today. It’s going to make the lives of parents and families so much better.”

The expansion will be funded from the recent $1.9 trillion federal stimulus package, which allocated billions for states.

The programs will be in-person in September 2021; city officials have stated they are confident all schools will reopen for in-person programing.

The city is also reopening its offices for municipal workers to begin to return to working in person on May 3. Masks will be mandatory for city workers.