A day after the city comptroller announced concerns about pre-K, Mayor Bill de Blasio is touting the city's work to get facilities ready for the start of school next week and says 50,407 students are already signed up. NY1's Lindsey Christ filed the following report.
The four-year-olds are coming!
"Everyone is ready," said Mayor Bill de Blasio. "Parents are ready. Teachers are ready. Kids are ready."
The mayor's real point Thursday was to show that the city is ready to serve the 50,000 students who've signed up for pre-K. That's more than twice the number from last year.
To make that point, the mayor surrounded himself with supportive elected officials and the heads of major city agencies, including health, fire, education, children's services, investigations and buildings.
"We're here to protect our children and to elevate them, and this is an extraordinary team devoted to it," de Blasio said.
The show-of-force was an effort to counteract what City Comptroller Scott Stringer began saying Wednesday, that the city is not ready.
"I want to see insurance forms. I want to see DOB forms. I want to look at databases related to criminal justice issues," Stringer said. "These are the reviews that we need to do."
The comptroller says the Department of Education has only given him 30 percent of the 500 pre-K contracts he's supposed to vet and approve.
"That means there's no independent review of these mayoral agencies and their work on pre-K. Now, this is malpractice," Stringer said. "I have to do my job. It's about checks and balances."
The mayor dismissed Stringer's concerns, saying the school year usually starts with most pre-K contracts not through the comptroller's office.
"I don't know why any public official would want to leave parents with the misimpression that there's a danger when there isn't a danger," de Blasio said.
Still, Stringer's criticisms clearly rattled the administration, which has not faced much criticism from local officials since taking office. Besides gathering officials to stand with de Blasio on the issue, the mayor's office also released statements from 30 other advocates and politicians, saying they believe the administration is prepared.
De Blasio announced that 50,407 students have enrolled in pre-K, which means that there are still about 3,000 unfilled seats. Still, that's a much higher enrollment rate than in previous years at this point. Now, the key question is, whether the city is ready to serve them.