With less than two weeks before students head back to school, the de Blasio administration is scrambling to launch its citywide pre-K program but finding that there are too many applicants in some neighborhoods, but not enough in others. NY1's Lindsey Christ filed the following report.
At 6:30 in the morning, they were lined up. Parents, with three and four-year-olds, hoped for a last-minute chance at winning a place in a public pre-k program.
"I had applied to like 15 schools and we were so disappointed when you know the day came and he didn't get into any programs so we just feel fortunate that something's opened up," says parent Donna Wagner.
Seven classes opened up to serve Brooklyn neighborhoods including Park Slope, Windsor Terrace and Sunset Park, where getting into pre-K continues to be a challenge despite the expansion this year.
"It's almost like applying for college. It's crazy," says parent Emily Marshall.
The new program will serve 126 students in a former Catholic school and be managed by the principal of P.S. 10, which is down the street.
This will be the first self-contained pre-K center run by the Department of Education. It's something the mayor had talked about wanting to do eventually in neighborhoods like this, where there is high demand but no space in public school buildings. It didn't seem likely, though, that any would be able to open this quickly.
When the new program was announced Monday, the city says it became clear there might be more applicants than spots, so it will hold a lottery to decide who gets in.
It will be more equitable, we feel, for all the parents who can't get here as quickly as some parents can or maybe are out of town or who are working," says District 15 Superintendent Anita Skop.
Parents have a week to apply, but there were already about 100 applicants by the end of the first day.
Everybody promised we were going to get somewhere into school and now it's getting closer to September," says parent Michael Martins.
Other neighborhoods have the opposite problem, however, as officials still struggle to get families to sign up.
In Brownsville, a community advocate says many of the pre-k programs are under-enrolled.
"We have the seats, now we need to fill them," says community advocate Tony Herbert.
The city says overall the percentage of seats filled to date is higher than in years past, even with more seats to fill.
Citywide enrollment numbers are expected sometime over the next few weeks.