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Long Island City kids will finally have more universal pre-K seats

Photo courtesy of Councilman Jimmy Van Bramer

After campaigning for more universal pre-K seats in the growing neighborhood, Long Island City parents will have an additional center to send their pre-schoolers to in September 2017.

Councilman Jimmy Van Bramer and School Construction Authority President Lorraine Grillo announced on Wednesday that two floors of 27-35 Jackson Ave. will be converted into a universal pre-K center that will accommodate 180 students.

The building currently houses a U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services center.

Long Island City parents have been struggling to place their children in pre-K classes. The neighborhood has been steadily growing and more than 11,000 residential units have been constructed in the past 10 years. The issue spurred the creation of the Gantry Parent Association in October 2015 by parents who rallied together to advocate for more school seats.

“This is wonderful news for our children and community,” said Kadie Black, board chair of the Gantry Parent Association. “The Gantry Parent Association deeply appreciates the leadership of Councilman Jimmy Van Bramer and the response of the School Construction Authority to the urgent need for pre-kindergarten classrooms for the growing Long Island City Community.”

Van Bramer has announced the addition of additional elementary and middle schools in the area but parents have argued that the lack of pre-K seats in the area is troubling.

In May, parents flooded the Gantry Parent Association Facebook group to express concern and frustration about being put on waiting lists for pre-K seats in Long Island City or being placed in schools in Astoria.

A spokesperson for the Department of Education previously told QNS that the number of pre-K seats in Long Island City has increased from 261 in the 2013-2014 school year to 1,156 in the 2016-2017 school year. In School District 30, the number of applicants who received admission to their top choice school increased from 59 percent to 63 percent.

“Long Island City is growing rapidly, and our neighborhood’s children need a place to learn,” Van Bramer said. “We fought long and hard for these desperately needed classes, and I’m beyond thrilled that we are now able to add 180 permanent pre-K seats for our neighborhood’s children, starting in September 2017. When we invest in schools, we invest in our community’s future.”

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