Students across the city started school on Thursday, and with a new year comes new programs, including free 3-K for pre-school aged kids.
Mayor Bill de Blasio also announced on the first day of school the launch of the city’s 3-K For All initiative, an early childhood education program that is part of de Blasio and Schools Chancellor Carmen Farina’s “Equity and Excellence for All.”
Also beginning this year, every public school student in the city will be able to get free lunch, the New York City Department of Education announced this week.
The Free School Lunch for All program will help provide an extra 200,000-plus students with free lunch, regardless of where they live or attend school, the city said.
Breakfast is already provided in New York schools and now “all meals will be served at no charge to families,” according to the Department of Education.
The 3-K program will also be free and builds on the city’s successful Pre-K For All, which is currently in its third year.
De Blasio joined Farina and students in the South Bronx Thursday morning for the first day of 3-K for All, which the city says is the starting point for “the path to free, full-day high-quality early childhood education for every three-year-old.”
“Today’s expansion of free, full-day, high quality pre-k to three-year-olds marks an important continuation of our commitment to children and families,” said Richard Buery, deputy mayor for Strategic Policy Initiatives, in a statement. “The research shows that two years of pre-kindergarten is a game changer.”
Nearly 1,400 three-year-olds are already registered for 3-K, according to the mayor’s office. Those students are registered in school districts 7 and 23, in the South Bronx and serving Brownsville, Ocean Hill and East New York, respectively.
The initiative is part of the Equity and Excellence for All agenda, which aims to support students and schools so that 80 percent of students can graduate high school on time by 2026.
“If we want to support the next generation of New Yorkers and strengthen our economy, we must continue to invest in early childhood education and provide the resources that young students need to succeed in school,” said Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito in a statement. “3-K is a victory for our students, their families, teachers, and administrators in particular because it helps lay the foundation for a productive education.”
3-K for All will expand to at least six additional school districts by fall 2020, for a total of eight districts. In order to enact 3-K for All citywide, the mayor’s office said, the city will need support from partners in the state and federal government.