De Blasio, Fariña celebrate pre-K for 3-year-olds, free lunches

NY Daily News Lifestyle 1 month ago

It's the yearly miracle.

More than 1 million city school kids started their first day of classes across the city on Thursday, as Mayor de Blasio and city schools Chancellor Carmen Fariña undertook new experiments that will impact the city's vast system of more than 1,800 public schools.

Sleepy and excited kids headed to class, as de Blasio and Fariña prepared to visit schools across the city to trumpet new efforts, including free school lunch for all students and full-day classes for 3-year-olds.

Their first stop was Public School 277 in the Bronx, where 30 youngsters are enrolled in one of the city's new 3-K For All classes.

"Here in the Bronx, we're seeing the start of something big, where all of our children are going to benefit from a great education right from the beginning," de Blasio said.

"History is being made right here in this school."

The city's 3-K for All program kicked off Thursday with nearly 1,400 seats in the Bronx and Brooklyn.

De Blasio hopes to take it citywide by 2021, building on the success of his signature universal pre-K program launched in 2014.

Fariña and de Blasio have both said they hope the twin early education programs will ease the stark and persistent achievement gap faced by black and Hispanic city students.

But critics say the effort is too limited and will do too little to bolster the education of students from underserved city communities.

Bronx mom Jessica Marano said she is pleased with program so far. Her 3-year-old son Noah is among the kids who started 3-K classes at PS 277.

"Daycare is very expensive for my family, so if I didn't have 3-K, I'd have to rely on family and friends to babysit Noah," Marano said. "But he'd be watching TV instead of learning new things."

Marano added, "This is a big day for my family. Noah is very eager to learn. He absorbs everything."

In another new program, city schools will offer free lunches to all students for the first time this year.

Education Department officials said the lunch plan will provide more than 200,000 additional students with a midday meal.

Last school year, 75% of students were eligible for free lunch. The program is federally funded and will be executed without added cost to the city, education officials said.

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