Mayor Bill de Blasio was joined by several Queens lawmakers and leaders on Oct. 31 to announce the beginning of construction of a new 300-seat Pre-K center in Flushing Meadows Corona Park.
The new Pre-K center will take the place of the current parking lot right next to the New York Hall of Science (NYSCI). NYSCI is in partnership with the state-of-the-art center that will focus its efforts in STEAM (science, technology, engineering, art, and math) education.
During a press conference inside of the NYSCI, de Blasio said that this is a great moment for the Corona community — a community that’s mostly made up of working class and immigrant families.
“This is by no means a privileged community. It’s a community where parents feel deeply that they want the best for their kids, but they don’t have the advantages that other communities have, economically,” de Blasio said. “This is going to be one of the very best programs in our nation. And it’s not happening in Park Avenue — it’s happening here, in Corona.”
The special project, which will cost $42.4 million, has been in the works for a few years now. The mayor made a point to thank the lawmakers, community leaders as well as the NYSCI for helping bring the plan into fruition.
Among those who played an important role were Queens Borough President Melinda Katz, Deputy Mayor Phil Thompson, Schools Chancellor Richard Carranza, State Senator Jessica Ramos, Assemblyman Jeffrion Aubry, Councilman Francisco Moya, and President of NYSCI Margaret Honey.
“It took a lot to get here,” Katz said. “Queens lacks the number of seats that is required for most of our children, and mostly it’s because Queens is doing so great, everybody wants to come here. Our numbers are growing every single day, we are exponentially growing in population, in tourism and all that comes with it — and that means that we need school seats. This is a great step in that direction.”
The School Construction Authority will take care of construction of the 306-seat center at 47-01 111th St., which will be fully ADA-accessible and will include 17 Pre-K classrooms, two exercise rooms, an outdoor playground, and a community and parent room.
The school will also participate in the Department of Education’s Diversity in Admission program, which will create an opportunity for a diverse group of District 24 students, including those who are in the Emergent Multilingual Learners program and who qualify for Free and Reduced-Price Lunch.
The Pre-K center is scheduled to open in the Fall of 2021.