QUEENS, NY – Borough President Melinda Katz announced the allocation of discretionary capital funding to create a new, free, full-day pre-K program at the Ravenswood Community Library located in the NYCHA Ravenswood Houses at 35-32 21st Street.

The new pre-K program would add 36 seats to School District 30, which has one of the largest pre-K seat shortages in Queens for the upcoming school year. The site was approved in August 2014 by the NYC Department of Buildings to host and operate a pre-K program.

“Addressing the pre-K seat shortage for the upcoming school year has been a priority, especially in Districts 30 and 24,” Borough President KATZ said. “We took a tour of the site today and it is an optimal location for pre-K due to its immediate proximity to both thousands of homes and to the Ravenswood Community Center. The Queens Library has taken one of the more creative initiatives we’ve seen to launch pre-K programs at our beloved libraries throughout the borough. Our libraries are treasured, safe community hubs for enrichment and lifelong learning, and starting the educational pathway from pre-K here is a natural fit.”

The funds for Ravenswood Community Library secured by Borough President Katz is a continuation of her commitment with City Hall to address the pre-K seat shortage. Last week, Borough President Katz also held an informational session with over a dozen Queens property owners to solicit vacant space for pre-K seats, especially in Districts 24 and 30.

“Getting our children the best possible education is a priority for all of Queens, and there is no better place for them to learn than at Queens Library,” Queens Library Interim President and CEO BRIDGET QUINN-CAREY said. “Borough President Katz’s leadership has been pivotal in bringing this much-needed educational opportunity to more Queens kids.”

According to the NYC Department of Design and Construction (DDC), the cost to modify the Ravenswood Community Library for a new pre-K program is estimated at $572,000. The initial $250,000 was committed by the Shoolman Foundation, as well as $72,000 from the NYC Department of Education (DOE).  When the Queens Library approached Borough President Katz for the remainder $250,000 that would allow the build-out of 36 new full-day pre-K seats, Borough President Katz took swift action to secure it from her discretionary capital funds.

For the pre-K program, the Ravenswood Community Library’s entire space will be used for pre-K from 8 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. on weekdays. Outside of school hours, the Library will be utilized as a Family Literacy Learning Center, which will offer English as a Second Language courses and other classes for adult learners.

“This funding is great news for the Ravenswood community and for the children of western Queens,” Senator MICHAEL GIANARIS said. “We know that pre-K makes a huge difference in the lives of our young students and I am glad that we are adding space in an area that so desperately needs more school seats. I thank Borough President Katz for her work in delivering this funding.”

“As Chair of the Assembly Education Committee, I have consistently advocated for the state to make the necessary investments so our local communities including our city can offer full-day quality pre-K,” Assemblywoman and Education Committee Chair CATHERINE NOLAN said.  “Expanding pre-K will provide more children with the opportunity for quality early education, preparing them for success in school and beyond.  Ravenswood needs this program.”

“The Ravenswood Library is a prime location to house and expand our City’s already successful universal pre-kindergarten program,” City Council Majority Leader JIMMY VAN BRAMER said. “I support Queens Borough President Melinda Katz’s efforts to bring more children from the Ravenswood are a better education. With the addition of two UPK classes we can provide more children a head-start in getting the education they rightfully deserve.”

“Community Board 1 is very pleased to see that 36 seats are being allotted for the pre-k program in our district and hope that this is the beginning of future growth for additional pre-k programs in our community,” Queens Community Board 1 Chair VINICIO DONATO said. “We are excited to add free, full-day, high-quality pre-K for All seats at Ravenswood in District 30, one of our highest demand districts,” DOE Division of Early Childhood Education Chief Executive Officer SOPHIA PAPPAS said. “Thanks to the support and partnership of Borough President Melinda Katz, we are continuing to make significant strides towards ensuring that every four-year-old in New York City will have access to this life changing educational opportunity. “The Edith Glick Shoolman Children’s Foundation is delighted to support the construction to prepare the Ravenswood Library for its upcoming UPK program,” Shoolman Foundation Executive Director DEBORAH BREZNAY said. “As a foundation that supports early learning, this is a natural next step for us in our long-time support of Queens Library’s excellent and greatly-needed programs for young children. There is no better location to teach young children than in a library setting! Our thanks to Queens Borough President Melinda Katz for her leadership and support of the project.”

Photo attached: Queens Library Interim President/CEO Bridget Quinn-Carey takes Borough President Katz and Councilmember Jimmy Van Bramer on a tour of the Ravenswood Community Library, future site of a new full-day pre-K program.


Follow Borough President Katz via @melindakatz or www.facebook.com/queensbpkatz