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City should not try to end half-day pre-K programs

By Lisa and David Galalis

This letter is in response to the article in the March 20 edition entitled “City hopes to enroll 70,000 students in pre-K by fall.”

Everyone knows that New York City taxpayers are now subsidizing the city’s new full-day pre-K program. Less well known is the city’s stealth decision to phase out funding for half-day universal pre-K programs and its recent refusal to give preschools new contracts for those programs, even when their communities ask for it. Under the mayor’s new policy, half-day pre-K contracts, when they come up for renewal, will be allowed to expire and will not be renewed.

This happened a few weeks ago to our preschool, Our Saviour’s Lutheran Preschool, in Bay Ridge, Brooklyn, which has had to refuse dozens of families who requested a half-day universal pre-K program, which it long provided through the city’s universal pre-K program.

Those half-day pre-K programs, whose contracts are not up for renewal this year, will be allowed to finish the remaining few years of their contract terms, and then they will have to either close their doors, charge tuition (about $6,000 a year), or convert to full-day Pre-K.

The city’s under-the-radar refusal to fund its longstanding half-day universal Pre-K program has had the following unintended consequences:

1. It hurts stay-at-home parents — the primary users of the half-day pre-K program — by forcing them to choose between a full-day program they don’t need and opting out of pre-K altogether;

2. It reduces the number of available seats of pre-K: the same classrooms that accommodated 100 half-day pre-K children can accommodate only one third to one half as many children;

3. It limits families’ educational options and disrespects the diversity of families in our city

4. By taking away an affordable pre-K option from families who do not want or need full-time pre-K, the city is pushing more parents into home-schooling, which is contrary to the city’s purported objective of “pre-K for All.”

Why can’t the city just fund both? Preschools should be able to receive funding from the city for both full-day pre-K and half-day pre-K programs. Doing so would not take away full-day pre-K for families who want it. It would just give people choices.

Lisa and David Galalis

Brooklyn

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