Summer has come and gone as children all over the borough are gearing for another school year. As students are both excited and nervous for their next step, this year, New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio and New York City Schools Chancellor Carmen Fariña have kicked off new programs that promise to improve all New York City schools.
Among these is Pre-K for All, the largest expansion of pre-kindergarten of any city in the nation’s history. A total of 51,500 children are now registered to attend full-day, pre-K, more than double the 20,000 children who attended those programs last year.
“We are building a new and better foundation for our children and our city. This is a monumental moment in the lives of tens of thousands of children and their families” said de Blasio. “We fought and we pushed so hard because we believed our families could not and should not wait.”
The next phase of the two-year plan is to increase the full-day pre-K number to all 73,000 eligible four-year-olds in New York City.
Another improvement is the increased number of speed cameras being installed near schools, designed to protect children crossing the street.
“We want to make sure everyone’s safe. And that’s why we’re installing speed cameras in school zones citywide – so we can protect our children and protect our families,” de Blasio said. “The last thing you want to worry about is a car speeding by and potentially endangering the lives of children.”
There are currently 20 school zone speed cameras. Over the next two years, that number is expected to increase to 120.
The expansion of after-school programs is also on this year’s agenda, with the goal of doubling the programs for middle school kids.
During their first day of school, kids and their parents expressed optimism for the new year.
Amira and Riley were all smiles on their pink and purple scooters, ready to start their first day of kindergarten at P.S. 185. “She’s so excited,” beamed Amira’s mom, ready to send her daughter off for the big first day.
Parent Michael R. breathed a sigh of relief as his son Max made his way up the stairs and into the building, ready to start his first day of school. “He’s been looking forward to getting back all summer,” he said.
“It’s exciting. They all seem very calm. It’s the parents who seem to have more of an attachment,” added Jane Berger, proud parent of five-year-old Mikayla, starting kindergarten at P.S. 200 in Bensonhurst.
“On the first day of school, we learn that anything is possible,” said Fariña. “While we’ve been hard at work all summer preparing and supporting our students and school staff, today we get back to work building the future of our city.”
Additional reporting by Meaghan McGoldrick and Heather J. Chin