By Valerie Victor
A new universal pre-K site is now open at the Queens Library in Ravenswood in Astoria after a last-minute reprieve from the borough president.
“The new site was opened to provide more free pre-K seats in a top-quality program for the community,” said Joanne King, director of communications at the library. “Pre-Kindergarten helps children do well when they go to school.”
Although the site is limited to 36 seats, all enrolled children will enjoy high-quality early childhood education for free. Apart from the pre-K program, the library will also function as a family literary center, she said.
Originally the UPK site was supposed to open last spring, but a lack of sufficient funding delayed the process of transforming the space in to a full pre-kindergarten site. As a result, during the second quarter of this year the UPK site was no longer going to open.
Once the Queens Library contacted Borough President Melindaa Katz explaining the situation, the borough president took action, King said. According to a spokesman for Katz, the borough president allocated $250,000 of discretionary capital funds based on the urgent need to finish the project in time for the school year.
Mayor Bill de Blasio and the Edith Glick Shoolman Children’s Foundation also contributed funds to aide in the timely opening of the pre-K site.
“It was intended to be open for the beginning of the school year and the city Department of Design and Construction, along with the borough president and the mayor’s office offered a great deal of assistance in getting the upgrades to the building finished in time,” King said.
On opening day, Katz, Deputy Mayor Richard Buery, city Department of Design and Construction Commissioner Feniosky Peña-Mora, and Queens Library’s Interim President Bridget Quinn-Carey gathered to speak to the public and shared words of encouragement and belief in the program’s ability to benefit the children and the community.
Members of the community welcomed the site.
“It’s a good thing and it’s literally right there in the neighborhood. I’m a mother, so at the end of the day if it’s something for the kids, then it’s worth it, and I can appreciate what they did,” said Ravenswood resident Luvasia Stewart, 29.
Parents interested can call 311 or visit www.nyc.gov/