Greenfield & Levine Call on de Blasio to Release Half-Day UPK for Yeshivos


de-blasioNew York – Council Members David Greenfield and Mark Levine called on Mayor Bill de Blasio today to immediately release a half-day UPK RFP to enable most yeshivas that have been shut out of the full day UPK program to offer their students UPK.

“New York City’s full day Pre-K promise has not materialized for yeshiva parents. The sad truth is that the program was rolled out in a way that makes it very difficult for the overwhelming majority of yeshivas to participate. The least New York City can do is to give yeshivas a more robust half-day option. Despite a promise that a half-day program was coming, the most recent RFP eliminates it completely. Simply put we need a half-day RFP immediately for yeshivas,” said Councilman David Greenfield.

“UPK was meant to be truly universal. Without the half-day UPK option, tens of thousands of children are denied the benefits of this important program,” said Councilman Mark Levine, Chair of the New York City Council’s Jewish Caucus.

Until the 2014/2015 school year private schools were largely able to access full and half day UPK. The Department of Education (DOE) offered UPK as either half-day at 2.5 hours or full-day at about 5 hours a day. Many community groups were able to offer these programs and approximately 85 yeshivas across the city had half-day UPK.

After taking office Mayor de Blasio expanded the full-day UPK program to include 6.2 hours a day at five days a week with the goal of that all four year old students across the city could benefit. The full-day UPK hour expansion has made it extremely difficult for private schools to take part in Pre-K simply because a week of full-day expanded UPK would total more school hours than most private schools offer four year olds and it leaves no time for religious education. After meeting with several prominent Jewish Organizations including the UJA, the Orthodox Union and Agudath Israel, in the spring of 2014 the Mayor’s office committed to adjusting the program to allow all parochial students equal access to the program. Though several changes were made to the RFP the administration did not adjust the hours for expanded full-day. As a result, this school year only 24 yeshivas and community groups are offering full-day UPK, totaling 1,174 new seats, or about 16% of the total yeshiva student population for four year olds, a far cry from universal participation.

New York City offers UPK to these students in the form of half-day programs. That’s why Council Members Greenfield and Levine are calling upon the Mayor’s office to release a half-day UPK RFP immediately. So far the city has released the RFP for full-day UPK and has made no clear indication that they plan to offer a half-day UPK RFP for the upcoming school years.

{Andy Newscenter}