Dear Commons Community,
Universal pre-K’s time has come in New York City. While Mayor Bill de Blasio, Governor Andrew Cuomo, and NYC Schools Chancellor Carmen Farina figure out how to finance it, logistical questions are arising. Specifically: Where are the classrooms and where are the certified teachers for pre-K education? As reported in the New York Daily News:
“Fariña and de Blasio begin their project with just 20,000 existing full-day, pre-K seats for city 4-year-olds. They seek to more than double that number to 56,000 seats in the school year that starts in September.
By the middle of the following school year, January 2016, they promise to have enough seats for 73,250 city children, a project that will cost $750 million each year to operate.
To create the seats they need in year one of the project, de Blasio’s team promises to convert 26,000 existing half-day pre-K seats to full-day seats.
They’ll upgrade about 12,000 existing day care slots to meet pre-K specs. And they’ll create about 12,000 new classroom seats from scratch.
Observers say the first roadblock Team de Blasio will run into is finding space for those new classrooms. The new seats alone will require about 1,000 new classrooms by September, and another 1,000 in the following year…
Finding qualified teachers poses another challenge. The expansion will require the addition of 2,000 pre-K instructors, all of whom must pass lengthy background checks. Education Department officials said they do not anticipate a problem filling all the positions.’
Construction of schools and classrooms has never been one of NYC Department of Education’s long suit. We hope that facilities administrators plan well how the construction will be carried out. In addition, the schools of education in New York City and especially at CUNY should start preparing now to ramp up their early childhood certification programs.