Demand Outstrips Supply for NYC Pre-K Seats

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Mayor Bill de Blasio with the father of a young girl who received a placement in a public school pre-k program.

While there were more pre-kindergarten seats available in New York City public schools than ever before, only 45 percent of the applicants got an offer at their first-choice school. Overall, the Department of Education said on Thursday it offered a pre-k placement to 25,696 students, or 62 percent of all those who applied.

That number was higher than the 14,000 offer made the year before. Still, it meant that 38 percent of the more than 41,000 applicants got no offer at all.

Some districts had even more skewed ratios: more than 60 percent of families did not get a match in District 24 in Queens, District 11 in the Bronx and District 20 in Brooklyn.

Offer letters and emails went out to families on Thursday. To accept an offer, families must register at the school by June 20.

Districts with worst matching rates

Borough District Percentage Unmatched Number Unmatched Number Matched
Queens 24 70% 1,190 507
Bronx 11 65% 1,032 566
Brooklyn 20 62% 1,187 734
Bronx 10 57% 1,026 780
Queens 28 53% 873 764


Districts with best matching rates

Borough District Percentage Unmatched Number Unmatched Number Matched
Brooklyn 14 13% 109 704
Brooklyn 23 13% 63 419
Manhattan 04 12% 54 382
Manhattan 01 10% 42 366
Brooklyn 16 9% 36 387

The lack of seats in city schools has led Mayor Bill de Blasio to expand pre-k programs offered by community-based organizations as well, and he pressed that point on his visit to P.S. 203 Floyd Bennett in Brooklyn.

"I'm going to keep saying it for the rest of the school year: We want parents to apply for any and all of the community-based options that make sense for them," he said.

All families that applied to pre-k in a public school also received in the mail an application for community-based programs. The mayor's office is running robocalls, reminding parents of the various options.

Last week, the city announced the first wave of additional full-day seats in community organizations; more are expected later this summer.

Families can now apply online to community programs through the education department's website, even though admissions are run by the individual organization. The city is urging families to apply to those programs by June 26.