Ribbon Cut on New 180 Seat Pre-Kindergarten Center for Four-Year-Olds on the Upper East Side
Upper East Side, NY – The day before public schools start in New York City, a ribbon was cut on a new 180-seat pre-kindergarten center to serve four-year-olds on the Upper East Side by School Construction Authority President Lorraine Grillo, Director of Early Childhood Education Aneesha Jacko, Congress Member Carolyn Maloney, and Council Member Ben Kallos. In May of last year they broke ground on this center at 355 East 76th Street.
In 2014, WNYC reported that Yorkville, Lenox Hill and Roosevelt Island had 2,118 four-year-olds and only 123 pre-kindergarten seats. Every year since then applications have exceeded the number of pre-kindergarten seats in the neighborhood. For the 2019 school year there were 1,122 pre-kindergarten seats available for four-year-olds in zip codes represented by Council Member Kallos with 1,140 applicants for pre-kindergarten according to a report of Local Law 72 of 2018 that he authored to spotlight this problem. Tomorrow the Department of Education will deliver on the promise of pre-kindergarten for all.
The ribbon cutting ceremony was attended by Congress Member Carolyn Maloney, and neighboring Council Member Keith Powers. Representatives from the offices of State Senator Liz Krueger, State Assembly Member Rebecca Seawright, and Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer were present as these were the elected officials that have been part of the multi-year effort to increase the number of pre-kindergarten seats on the Upper East Side. Funding for these new seats was originally announced by Mayor Bill de Blasio as part of Fiscal Year 2018 Executive Budget.
“We are thrilled to open this brand new Pre-Kindergarten Center for Upper East Side families,” said Lorraine Grillo, President and Chief Executive Officer of the New York City School Construction Authority. “These 180 pre-k seats are the result of our robust and comprehensive search for Pre-Kindergarten sites on the Upper East Side and will provide beautiful learning environments for children to grow and thrive. This center is one of twelve pre-k/3K sites we’re opening this week as part of Mayor de Blasio’s Pre-Kindergarten for All Initiative that is opening high-quality opportunities and providing access to early childhood education for neighborhoods throughout the City.”
“Every child deserves a quality education, and tomorrow the Department of Education will deliver its promise of pre-kindergarten for all. I am so pleased that an additional Pre-K site has opened its doors to serve our community here on the Upper East Side, and I applaud Council Member Kallos, the School Construction Authority, and the Department of Education for getting this program up and running and for increasing the number of students our community can serve. As a former teacher, I know the importance of a solid educational foundation and hope the City continues to expand access to pre-kindergarten programs throughout the five boroughs,” said Congress Member Carolyn B. Maloney
“Every child deserves a world class education, starting with pre-kindergarten. On the Upper East Side we’ve increased the number of pre-kindergarten seats sevenfold, that started by recruiting community-based organizations then building our way out with three new centers boasting more than 400 new seats,” said Council Member Ben Kallos. “We couldn’t have done this without our parents and fellow elected officials fighting by our side. Thank you to Mayor Bill de Blasio for making the promise of pre-kindergarten for all and funding these seats in last year’s budget as well as to the School Construction Authority for finding and building this new pre-kindergarten center in just over a year. I now focused on brining 3K for All to the neighborhood in time for my daughter.”
“One of my most important fights each year is over state budget funds for public schools, including Universal Pre-K. UPK is a groundbreaking and vital program for New York families, but it only works if there is enough classroom space to meet demand throughout the city. With this new center, we finally have the seats we need to ensure Upper East Side kids can get the best start to their education. Thank you to Councilmember Kallos, Mayor de Blasio, and my other colleagues in government for delivering on this important project,” said Senator Liz Krueger.
“I commend Council Member Ben Kallos for helping to secure the space for critically needed pre-k seats on the Upper East Side of Manhattan. As a member of the Education Committee in Albany and as a mother of two children who graduated from the City’s public school system I have seen first-hand-- the need to invest more dollars in public education. I am pleased that we are closer to ensuring that all families have the same access to quality education in their neighborhood," said Assembly Member Rebecca Seawright.
“As public officials, it is our duty to provide our public school students with high-quality education, and the continued, accelerated expansion of universal pre-K seats does just that. I thank the Department of Education for continued efforts with this successful program and am glad to partner with Council Member Kallos to benefit our districts’ youngest learners,” said Council Member Keith Powers.
“Parents and educators know that early childhood education can make a tremendous difference in students’ lives, and I want to thank everyone who worked to make this project a reality, “ said UFT President Michael Mulgrew.
“All New York City families deserve access to high quality Pre-K, and that often requires someone to lead the fight for funding for additional classroom space. CSA applauds Council Member Ben Kallos, Upper East Side parents and elected officials whose unrelenting advocacy made this new center a reality. These children are in great hands with a leader like Director of Early Childhood Education Aneesha Jacko, and we wish her and the entire community a successful first year,” said Mark Cannizzaro, President of the Council of School Supervisors and Administrators.
Chancellor Carranza and I are excited to open this beautiful pre-K center. We are so grateful to the SCA, Mayor de Blasio, and to the elected officials whose support for Pre-K For All has been so essential. High quality early childhood education is the best way to start a vibrant path to lifelong learning. We are thrilled with the continued progress of this nationally recognized model that advances equity and excellence for all, said Karin Goldmark, Deputy Chancellor of School Planning and Development.
“We are thrilled to celebrate the opening of this new Pre-K Center and excited to welcome our children and families for the first day of school. District 2 Pre-K centers are a Cradle of Inquiry where students are inspired to create in order to thrive,” said Aneesha Jacko, Director of Early Childhood Education for the District 2 Pre-K Center at 220 East 76th Street.
In the fall of 2018, Council Member Kallos cut the ribbon on the 90-seat District 2 Pre-K Center at 1683 Third Avenue that he helped negotiate between Extell Developer Gary Barnett and Mayor Bill de Blasio. He also joined Council Member Keith Powers, Senator Liz Krueger and Assembly Member Dan Quart to cut the ribbon on the 144-seats District 2 Pre-K Center at 252 East 57 Street.
On April 30th, 2017 Council Member Kallos organized and led a rally to demand prekindergarten seats on the Upper East Side at St Catherine’s Park attended by dozens of local parents and their four-year-olds who did not have a seat in the neighborhood. At that same rally where Council Member Kallos called on the City to build more Pre-K seats in the Upper East Side the support of Citywide elected officials like Comptroller Scott Stringer and Public Advocate Tish James who were in attendance was won. State Senator Liz Krueger, Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer, Assembly Members Dan Quart and Rebecca Seawright all spoke at the event lending their voices in support to the cause. Former Council Member Dan Garodnick also spoke on behalf of his district which is now represented by Council Member Keith Powers who also attended