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Audit Questions Use of Money for Preschools

Friday, October 14, 2011 - 02:07 PM

New York City is failing to take advantage of all of the money allocated by the state for prekindergarten programs, according to an audit by City Comptroller John C. Liu. The report finds that the Department of Education returned $133 million dollars in pre-K financing to the state from the 2007 to 2010 fiscal years.

In 2010 alone, the city returned $29 million out of the $248 million allocated for pre-K. Mr. Liu estimated that those funds could have paid for 8,000 children to attend half-day programs.

The audit makes several recommendations to education officials, including better tracking those prekindergarten programs with high demand and waiting lists.

Deputy Chancellor Marc Sternberg wrote a scathing response to the audit, calling the report "myopic in scope, poorly planned and poorly executed."

The Department of Education has said that state funds are restrictive, because they cover only half-day pre-K programs. The department said that many families seek out full-day programs, and that it will continue to lobby legislators to relieve some of the restrictions on the funds.

State budget officials said other districts besides New York City also have unspent funds for the pre-K program.

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