Bay Ridge

De Blasio seeking sites for more pre-K classes

March 18, 2015 By Paula Katinas Brooklyn Daily Eagle
The city is planning to construct a pre-k center at this site, 369 93rd St. in Bay Ridge. Eagle photo by Paula Katinas
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With the demand for pre-kindergarten classes in New York City schools running high, as evidenced by the fact that 21,938 families applied for seats on Monday, the first day of registration in the second phase of universal pre-K, the de Blasio Administration is actively trying to locate potential sites, according to one official.

“We’re looking for pre-K sites,” Jonathan Viguers, a member of the Mayor’s Community Assistance Unit told Community Board 10 at the board’s March 16 meeting. Viguers said the de Blasio Administration is willing to consider churches, religious institutions, even backrooms in buildings, as possible sites. “We’re really, really being open here,” he said.

The Associated Press reported that the city is also looking to build new structures that will solely act as pre-kindergarten buildings.

But the city has been picky in awarding contracts to community-based organizations looking to house pre-k programs, according to the Associated Press, which reported that the Department of Education (DOE) rejected 45 percent of the facilities that applied to host pre-K sites.

On March 16, de Blasio announced the second phase of the city’s pre-K program was off to a rousing start. The 21,938 families applying for free, full-day, pre-K marked an increase from last year, when 6,500 families applied on the first day, according to the mayor’s office.

Because of free pre-K, the average New York family saves more than $10,000 a year in childcare costs, the mayor said.

“We’ve made pre-K for All the centerpiece of our vision for a more fair and equal city. Today is the culmination of a commitment we made to every family that we would open this door of opportunity to every child,” de Blasio said in a statement.

Councilmember Vincent Gentile (D-Bay Ridge-Dyker Heights-Bensonhurst) said he was pleased to see the success of universal pre-K.

“The expansion will ensure that all families, regardless of income, will have access to high-quality early education opportunities so their children can enter kindergarten prepared for success,” he said.

The current registration period, which began March 16, will end on April 24.

In Bay Ridge, the pre-K focus is centered on a building at 369 93rd St., where the city plans to construct a stand-alone pre-k center. The one-story building currently at the site houses a medical center, Hamilton Medical Associates. The building is owned by an entity called MMSS LLC, according to the Department of Finance’s website.

The city plans to demolish the building and construct a three-story early childhood center that will contain eight classrooms and 144 seats, Community Board 10 officials said. reported that the city is currently negotiating with the property owner for the purchase of the lot. The site is listed by the real estate firm Massey Knakal with a purchase price of $3.1 million.

Two officials from the School Construction Authority, Steve Gonzales and Tammy Rachelson, spoke at a Feb. 25 public hearing held by Community Board 10’s Zoning and Land Use and Education committees about the city’s plans for the site.

The two officials “did share that the new building will most likely utilize full lot coverage with no parking provide on site,” Ann Falutico, chairman of the Zoning and Land Use Committee, told board members at the March 16 meeting.

The site has raised concerns on the block, however, because of its proximity to the Prince Hotel, a building at 315 93rd St. that neighbors said attracts drug dealers and prostitutes. The hotel is owned by Bay Ridge Prince LLC, Dept. of Finance records show.

Falutico said her committee voted to recommend approval of the site as a pre-k center, but added that members want the city to engage in strict enforcement at the Prince Hotel to eradicate problems there.



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