Wednesday, March 20, 2019

Community-based PreK directors urge the Mayor and Chancellor to change course or their centers will be forced to close

Articles about this issue have now been published in Brooklyn Daily Eagle and the Daily News.

For immediate release: March 20, 2019
For more information: Alice Mulligan,

Community-based PreK directors urge the Mayor and Chancellor to change course or their centers will be forced to close

Fifty-eight directors of community-based preschool programs from all five boroughs have now written letters to Mayor de Blasio and Chancellor Carranza, warning them that the expansion of PreK and now 3K has put their centers on the brink of financial collapse.
They explain how despite having worked for decades with DOE to provide early education, they have lost thousands of students as DOE built too many of their own free-standing PreK centers close to existing CBO-run programs.  These free-standing DOE PreK centers cost taxpayers $811 million, and many themselves now stand half-empty.
.In addition, the DOE insists on placing excessive numbers of PreK children in public elementary schools – even in schools that are already overcrowded and have waiting lists for Kindergarten.  As documented in a recent report by Class Size Matters entitled The Impact of PreK on School Overcrowding in NYC: Lack of Planning, Lack of Space, the DOE’s inserted PreK classes in 352 public schools that were at 100% utilization or more, thus contributing to worse overcrowding for about 236,000 elementary school students.
The letters from the CBO directors describe how many of them shared their concerns with Deputy Chancellor Josh Wallack and his staff at a meeting in November 2018.  Though Wallack admitted that mistakes had been made by the city in building too many PreK centers, he refused to change course or correct the DOE’s practice of overfilling elementary schools to the detriment of the community-based programs that are suffering severe economic distress as a result.  

Though the CBO directors suggested to Wallack that the DOE assign more students to their centers to help ensure their financial viability and to use their own PreK centers for Kindergarten classes, which would relieve some of the overcrowding at nearby elementary schools and offer these children smaller classes, he refused.

During a subsequent phone conference with the DOE, CBO directors were informed that there was no plan to limit further expansion of PreK or 3K in district elementary schools. The new proposed five-year capital plan allocates another $95 million to build 3K centers and $85 million for PreK centers. Thus, this initiative will continue to come at the expense of the city’s long-time CBO partners, city taxpayers, and hundreds of thousands of elementary school students, who will experience even worse overcrowding in NYC public schools as a result. 

The letters from the PreK directors conclude with this heartfelt plea:

“Community-based organizations like ours have been the backbone of early childhood education in our city for generations.  When the DOE needed us as their partner, we provided.  When the Mayor needed us to help reach his goal of serving 70,000 children, we provided.  Again and again, the DOE has come to us when they needed us and now we are being dismissed and ignored. Why must our centers, dedicated to helping families and improving early education opportunity for NYC children be the collateral damage of the Mayor’s signature initiative? “
The fifty-eight letters, 25 of them from Pre-K directors in Brooklyn, 17 in Queens,  seven in the Bronx, five in Manhattan and four in Staten Island, are posted here:


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