Bronx schools

City budget proposal would create 15,000 more 3-K slots this fall

Two-thirds of New York City’s 3-year-olds would have access to a free 3-K education starting this fall and all city 3-year-olds would be eligible by September 2023, under the proposed New York City Recovery Budget released by the city last week.

If approved by the City Council, the $98.6 billion budget proposed by Mayor Bill de Blasio for Fiscal Year 2022 will impact a wide variety of aspects of education as part of helping the city recover from the Coronavirus pandemic.  

The number of 3-K slots available in city schools in September would increase from about 25,000 to 40,000, under the proposal, and within two years, the total number of slots available would be 60,000, roughly enough to meet total demand across the city, the mayor said.

The Recovery Budget also provides funding for expanding early childhood special education, increasing access to sports programming for high school students, and addressing learning loss through a more robust student summer program.  

“We are meeting the moment with direct investments in education, small businesses, open space and public health, and we are building up reserves to continue our strong fiscal foundation for the future,” Mayor Bill de Blasio said in a statement. “With the Recovery Budget, New York City will emerge from this challenge stronger, fairer, cleaner, greener and safer than ever.”

The proposed budget, which would be the largest in the city’s history thanks to an influx of federal stimulus funds, would invest heavily in education. In the more than $14 billion that the city is set to receive from the federal government, $7 billion is slated to go towards education.

Part of de Blasio’s proposal to fund education would expand free preschool for 3-year-olds to all of the school districts in the city, in theory, making it so the city would have free seats for all eligible children by September 2023. 

“These programs provide children with an invaluable head start in school and life, and I encourage families to explore the 3-K and Pre-K for All options available in their communities and apply,” Schools Chancellor Meisha Porter, a former Bronx principal, said last month in a new release announcing the expansion of the 3-K program.

Families can apply to the 3-K program, which is free and full-day, the year their child turns three. It’s open to NYC residents, including children with disabilities, accessibility needs, those who are learning English and living in temporary housing, as well as LGBTQ and gender nonconforming students, according to the Department of Education. 

The deadline for the application for next school year closes on May 28. More information can be found here. 

In addition to funding the 3-K program, the proposed budget would also allocate $500 million to assessing student’s academic progress during the COVID-19 pandemic and give them tutoring. Summer school would also be expanded through a $120 million program called Summer Rising, where students will receive schooling and social support. This program is open to all NYC K-12 students, including those who attend private and charter schools.