By Bill Parry
The city will add much needed pre-K seats in Hunters Point this fall, according to the city’s Department of Education. The move comes after a phone-call campaign mounted by the Gantry Parent Association.
“We’ve listened to families and added two pre-K sections at the pre-K center housed within PS 78, bringing the number of free, full-day, high-quality seats in Long Island City to nearly 1,200, from just 261 in 2013-14,” DOE spokeswoman Devora Kaye said. “We’ll continue to work with this community to expand pre-K options and better match pre-K seats and family demand.”
Jen Theien, who founded the Gantry Parent Association in October, was thrilled with the announcement.
“I think it is wonderful for the community and even though my own daughter didn’t get in, we’re going in the right direction,” Theien said. “But while it is progress, there are still so many children who don’t have seats. We still need at least two more classes.”
City Councilman Jimmy Van Bramer (D-Sunnyside) said the DOE has made a good start but there is much more to be done by the School Construction Authority and the DOE.
“We have demanded that the remaining children on the wait list be accommodated and I believe this will happen in the near future,” he said. “And then once we have secured all the seats necessary for this year, the SCA and DOE must redouble their efforts to secure a permanent space for pre-K seats in LIC that does not strain the resources at PS/IS 78.”
Parents of children on the wait list were offered seats at PS 111 in Dutch Kills and PS 76 in Astoria, but the DOE will continue to “explore options to add pre-K seats in this community for the 2016-17 school year.”
Meanwhile, the Gantry Parent Association and the Hunters Point Parks Conservancy began offering free kids’ programs at LIC Landing in Hunters Point South Park this week. Summer Kids at the Landing will run through the next six weeks, including music and dance classes, arts and crafts, and two exotic animal shows.
“The conservancy has been looking for ways to provide more programming for many of the younger residents of our community,” HPPC President Rob Basch said. “We recognize the huge influx of young families to our neighborhood that use our parks. Finding a partner like the Gantry Parent Association provided a perfect opportunity to work with an organization that is dedicated to support the children and their parents in our community.”
Other events will include Broadway for Kids and Mommy Makeovers.
“The GPA is thrilled to be a part of this,” Theien said. “The programs that we are bringing to LIC Landing are some of the most popular around LIC, and our hope is that all families take advantage of these free activities.”
Reach reporter Bill Parry by e-mail at bparr