Public Prek is the fours year. They are housed in public schools and they are free for everyone, no matter your income (the "universal" in UPK). Some programs are half day and some are full day (it depends on what the school provides) and they are all 5 days programs.
When the DoE releases this year's information it will be located here.
The application period for prek begins March 4, 2013.
The application deadline is April 5, 2013.
You will hear about your placement in early June.
Registration for prek will be June 5 - June 19.
We don't know how the DoE will be handling any left over seats this year. Last year it was up to the individual schools to figure out a way to collect a wait list and hand out remaining seats. We will see if there are new developments when directories are released in early March. In the meantime, talk to the schools that you are touring to see how they anticipate handling a wait list.
The Prek application will have spots for 12 ranked schools. Seats are assigned by lottery according to set priorities.
first inzone siblings
out of zone siblings
out of zone families whose school doesn't have a prek class
out of zone, in district families
out of zone, out of district families
There is a notable difference in policy this year. Students attending prek in a school (no matter whether they are in or out of zone or district) have priority to that kindergarten, above out of zone families who are not attending that prek. This can be a pretty big deal if you love an out of zone program and you are lucky enough to get a seat. The thing is that it is not something that happens very often. Because there are so few seats in sought after programs, the seats are usually always taken by in zone sibs, with a few sometime snagged by in zone families.
It is pretty hard for first or only children to find a seat in a popular prek. I recommend looking at schools that are flying under the radar, are not popular schools for kindergarten or are relatively inconvenient to get to. These are the schools that often have seats available for outside of zone kids. Occasionally half day programs are also not as sought after because they are so short.
I have been hearing about new seats being added to schools around the city, but we won't know for sure until we see the Directories that will be coming out in early March.
PS 118 (the new program in Park Slope) will have at least one prek class
PS 133 (moving to the new building on 4th Ave.) will have an additional class (3 total)
PS 196 in Williamsburg is adding an additional class