Dyker Heights

School District 20 expands Universal Pre-k to more sites

October 20, 2017 By Paula Katinas Brooklyn Daily Eagle
District 20 Early Childhood Director Dianne Gounardes (left) and School Superintendent Karina Costantino get set to cut the ribbon to mark the opening of the district’s newest pre-k center on 62nd Street. Photo courtesy of District 20
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Mayor Bill de Blasio’s Universal Pre-K for All program is growing by leaps and bounds in Southwest Brooklyn, according to School District 20 officials, who opened a new site last week and are making plans to move into another location.

On Oct. 16, District 20 Superintendent Karina Costantino and Early Childhood Director Dianne Gounardes cut the ribbon to mark the opening of the district’s newest pre-K site at 1423 62nd St.

Designed to accommodate 360 students, the new center is the result of a collaboration between the New York City School Construction Authority (SCA), the Department of Education (DOE) and District 20 administrators.

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The district, which covers schools in Bay Ridge and Dyker Heights and includes schools in parts of Bensonhurst, Borough Park and Sunset Park, is making plans to open another pre-K site at 363 93rd St. in September 2018. Registration for the 252 seats that will be available at that site will begin this winter. Children born in 2014 are eligible for enrollment.

“Today we celebrate the opening of a beautiful building that is providing a tremendous opportunity for our youngest learners,” Costantino said in a statement. “These children are preparing themselves for the rigor of kindergarten and beyond. Their goals of language acquisition, attaining social and emotional skills, and understanding routines and rituals help them prepare for the serious academics of kindergarten and beyond.”

There are currently 10 pre-K centers located throughout District 20, according to officials. The centers are dedicated solely to pre-K classes, unlike other public schools, which educate students from several grades.

District 20 operates the largest pre-K center program in the city, according to Costantino. “It is like having a small district within our larger District 20 community,” she said.

Under the direction of Gounardes, the pre-K program serves approximately 1,200 families in the community. The program includes age appropriate units of study, parent engagement, educator collaborations and community involvement.

Introduced by de Blasio and Schools Chancellor Carmen Fariña two years ago, the city’s Universal Pre-K for All program educates children who are 4 years old with the goal of giving the youngsters a good head start in their educational lives.

At the Oct. 16 ribbon cutting, Costantino and Gounardes were joined by several educational officials, including Community Education Council President Bob Lee, SCA representatives, Assistant Principal Maria Genao Duran, Site Coordinator Elizabeth De Angelis, as well as teachers and paraprofessionals.

Students also participated in the celebration of the new center.


For more information on the district’s pre-K program, visit District20Prek.org.


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