De Blasio ‘ready to offer’ full pre-K program

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Nearly 8,000 applicants are expected to apply for jobs as pre-kindergarten teachers, quadruple the number needed for the first two years of Bill de Blasio's plan to expand pre-K, the mayor said on Tuesday afternoon.

"Since we walked in the door about 12 weeks ago, the machinery at literally a dozen city agencies has been moving intensely to make sure that we're ready to offer high-quality, full-day, universal pre-K this September for 53,000 New York City children," de Blasio said during a City Hall press conference.

The teacher estimate is based on an increase in applications for a state credential to teach pre-K after de Blasio announced the expansion program, which he has called his top priority.

The mayor also estimated that, by the second year of its implementation, the program will have 73,000 students enrolled.

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De Blasio announced that through a $6.7 million partnership with CUNY, 400 city residents will get certified to teach pre-K. The city will pay for that with money it expects to receive from Albany in the coming weeks for early childhood education.

He said the CUNY program will entail training, field work and mentoring recent college graduates to get certification by September of 2015.

The city will also offer stipends and tuition assistance for certification for teachers currently in the city's early education system at community based organizations, which are providing space for many of the pre-K classes.

Despite the overflow of applications, de Blasio said the city will advertise for teaching positions in subway ads and online.

The announcement comes as legislative leaders in Albany finalize a state budget that is expected to include hundreds of millions of dollars in funding for pre-K programs across the state.

Governor Andrew Cuomo has said the funding for each city would be based on its readiness to expand pre-K programs, and that there would be no "preordained" amount for each city.

"It's in essence first come, first serve, and I want to use that competition to get them to bring the units online quickly," Cuomo said after a speech in Manhattan earlier this month.

De Blasio initially called for a tax increase on those earning more than $500,000 to pay for universal pre-K, but in recent days he has abandoned that push and is simply saying he is "confident" he will get substantial funding. Cuomo opposed the tax increase.