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In First Year of Pre-K Expansion, a Rush to Beat the School Bell

Still, many more pieces will have to fall into place by Sept. 4, the first day of school, for the program to go smoothly. Public school seats represent just a portion of Mr. de Blasio’s vision for expanding early childhood education, but they are in some ways the most coveted, since they often have established programs. With public school space in short supply, the city has had to rely heavily on private programs, some of which were approved in August, and have had to quickly rent or renovate classrooms, hire teachers and order furniture and materials.

Among dozens of program leaders interviewed, several by this week still had fewer than half of their seats filled, were looking for teachers, or did not have their requisite approvals from the city’s health or fire departments. Many expressed confidence that they would be ready by Sept. 4, but a few were worried. One director, who had recently discovered that her new building had lead problems, said she would not be able to open until Sept. 10 or 15.