HARLEM (PIX11) -- For the second year in a row, New York City parents get to enroll their children into the universal pre-K program beginning March 16, Mayor Bill de Blasio working on following through on a promise to provide a seat for every child and family who wants the opportunity.
"Obviously there's a lot of choice. That's a good thing, but that can be a challenge for families. So, we've made it easy to navigate for families," explained Deputy Mayor Richard Buery
Parents can call, visit one of a dozen welcome centers in person across our five boroughs or enroll online by visiting http://www.nyc.gov/prek. Unlike last year, this year parents will only be required to fill out a single application and submit up to 12 of their top choices instead of applying to each school individually.
A new challenge this year, however, is the discussion surrounding the approval for so called "non program activities," which impacts religious schools and Montessori schools offering pre-K programs through public funding. The "non program" time may mean unstructured play time at some schools but at others, likely religious schools, it could mean prayer time. That has resulted in numerous groups threatening to sue the city's school district, claiming it oversteps the separation of church and state.
PIX11 reached out to de Blasio's office and a spokesperson said this will in no way be forced, that parents will be notified by the schools if a prayer time is added and families will absolutely be permitted to opt out.
The city said 53,000 pre-K students enrolled last year and this year is expected to top that number with about 70,000. The deadline for enrollment is April 24th and parents will be notified of their choice by June.