BY ARIEL HERNANDEZ
State Sen. Jose Peralta’s (D-Elmhurst) bill to construct a state-of-the-art pre-K school in Flushing Meadows Corona Park was signed by Gov. Andrew Cuomo last Thursday.
“I want to applaud Gov. Andrew Cuomo for signing into law my bill that will allow the city to build a much-needed pre-K center in an effort to fight the severe school overcrowding my district has faced for decades,” said Peralta.
The school, which will have more than 300 new seats, is going to be constructed at a site that is currently a parking lot.
Currently, about 108 4-year-old children attend pre-K in trailers on the PS 28 playground, which is directly across the street from the parking lot. In addition, a number of other children who live in Corona attend pre-K outside their neighborhood, due to the district’s overcrowding.
“The city received the necessary legal approval from the state legislature to utilize the public parkland in Flushing Meadows Corona Park, which currently houses the New York Hall of Science, due to a similar alienation granted decades ago,” said Queens Borough President Melinda Katz. “Proceeding otherwise would have set a dangerous precedent. The use of public parkland must go through the proper channels—even by the city of New York. The action effectively creates hundreds of new pre-K seats with STEM curriculum, and it was critical to follow the proper procedures of the public trust doctrine in the interest of protecting public parkland from unfettered development. Queens looks forward to the groundbreaking of a brand-new, state-of-the-art pre-K school at the Hall of Science.”
The bill authorizes the operation of a pre-kindergarten center that focuses on science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) at Flushing Meadows Corona Park.
“Part of the Pre-K for All promise was to make sure every 4-year-old in the city has access to pre-kindergarten programs,” said Deputy Mayor Richard Buery. “In some neighborhoods, we’ve had to really improvise to make that happen.”
Although the bill adds pre-K seats to the district, the overcrowded region would still need approximately 200 more seats. The school is expected to open in 2020.