Brooklyn School District 20 has among the worst pre-K matching rates

Brooklyn School District 20 had the third-worst public school pre-kindergarten matching rate in the city, with 62 percent of eligible students—1,187 students—left unmatched and only 734 students assigned a seat for the 2014-2015 school year.

This was the complete reverse of the citywide rates, which saw a 62 percent match rate and 38 percent no-match rate for the first year of Mayor Bill de Blasio’s universal pre-k effort.

The only two districts with worse rates were District 24 in Queens (70 percent unmatched) and District 11 in the Bronx (65 percent unmatched).

That statistic doesn’t surprise Laurie Windsor, president of Community Education Council (CEC) District 20, which covers schools in Bay Ridge, Dyker Heights, and parts of Bensonhurst and Sunset Park.

“When [the Department of Education (DOE)] put in additional pre-k seats, we didn’t get any, so this statistic makes sense,” she said. “[D20] has a harder time finding seats for kindergarten grades and up. But there are additional pre-k seats with community-based organizations (CBOs). There’s just no room in public schools.”

CBO early childhood centers are approved by the DOE, but are in charge of their own applications, which opened in February/March and are accepted on a rolling basis until full. In District 20, there are 32 CBO programs offering a mix of full-day and half-day pre-k seats.

High demand has resulted in CBO seats filling up quickly.

“We’re full. It filled up in a week,” said Dr. Alice Guercio, assistant executive director of early childhood services at the Guild for Exceptional Children. “Because of our reputation, people kept asking us to notify them once the [32 full-day] seats were available. We now have a waiting list.”

The same goes for HeartShare Human Services’ 40 seats at their Bath Avenue location. Likewise, the 114 part-time seats at Smart Start Early Childhood Center at 8411 Fort Hamilton Parkway also filled up shortly after registration opened in March, long before the DOE reminded parents about CBOs in early June. That “second wave” of applications makes up Smart Start’s wait-list, said its director, Carolyn Capizzi.

However, some programs still have space. At Holy Cross Greek Orthodox Church, seven half-day afternoon seats and three full-day seats remain as of press time, out 36 seats each.

“[Every year] there’s usually a waiting list,” said George Cincotta, HeartShare’s director for external affairs. “I’m not sure whether there’s an increase this year, [but] most people are in agreement that [pre-k and early childhood education] is best for children,” so demand will continue, he said.

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