De Blasio’s pre-K push comes to Lower Manhattan

BY DUSICA SUE MALESEVIC  |  A onetime pre-K starved Lower Manhattan will soon be feasting on an influx of new seats this fall.

As part of Mayor Bill de Blasio’s push for pre-K for all, Lower Manhattan has more than 378 full-day seats for the upcoming 2015-2016 school year.

Last year, while the city expanded the full-day pre-K rolls to over 50,000, most Lower Manhattan neighborhoods lost seats to accommodate the swelling kindergarten classes. This year, the city hopes to make pre-K universal with over 70,000 seats, and has found locations Downtown.

There will be new pre-K centers — some temporary, some permanent. At the Peck Slip School, which is slated to open this fall, there will be a temporary pre-K center with 180 seats. Peck Slip has been “incubating” at the Tweed Courthouse on Chambers St., which will have a 54-seat center come September.

There will be 36 seats at an unnamed center at Two Lafayette St. [a city government building], according to the Department of Education.

At 17 Battery Place North, there will reportedly be 108 seats. This pre-K center will be housed in the same building as Exponents, a drug treatment center, and the John V. Lindsay Wildcat Academy Charter School.

The D.O.E. did not provide any details about the centers.

Peck Slip, the new school in the Seaport, will also have two pre-K full-day sections of 18 each. A full day is six hours and 20 minutes.

“We will have, of course, extra rooms in our building, so they’ve identified the school building at number 1 Peck Slip having room to take additional pre-K classes,” said Maggie Siena, the school’s principal.

The pre-K center of five rooms will be separate from Peck Slip School, which will go up to the third grade this fall, said Siena.

Siena said last week that “the news is so fresh” about the center that there were not a lot of details available at the moment. Siena said she would not be running the center and it’s not clear if a director has been named yet there or at Tweed.

“If you’re in the same building, of course you’re going to work together in some way, right? It really does remain to be seen since it’s very brand-new news,” she said March 16.

Jessica Pollard, managing director of Child Care Partners NY West at 20 West St., told Downtown Express by phone that she had just received her letter on March 16 saying that the preschool had been “awarded” a pre-K program.

Child Care Partners, which has been open for three years as a private school, will have 37 full-day seats this September, which will be its first. Open from 6:30 a.m. to 6:30 p.m. Monday through Friday, they cater to working families and offer extended day programs, said Pollard. Around 80 children now attend with ages ranging from six weeks to five. She said that she expects about 17 to 20 current students to take spots in this fall’s pre-K class.

Private programs running extended days get reimbursed for the six hour 20 minute public program, and parents who use it, pay the balance for the extra hours.

Another new pre-K provider is New York Preschool Tribeca at 88 Leonard St. The preschool, which is affiliated with NY Kids Club, will have 18 full-day spots, Jason Lowenhar, director of digital marketing for NY Kids Club, wrote in an email. He said that they expect the class to be filled with a mix of new and already attending children.

The Tribeca location opened in the summer of 2013 and while this is their first year as a public pre-K provider, it has offered four-year-old preschool programs at several other locations and has experience with this age group, said Lowenhar. It also offers afterschool programs, he said.

Full-day pre-K will be offered again this year at CCLC at 4 NY Plaza, at Water and Broad Sts., which has 31 spots. The center opened a month before Superstorm Sandy in September 2012 and was then closed for six months due to damage, Lisa Pacheco, center director, said in a phone interview.

After renovation, it reopened in May of 2013, and serves children from six weeks to pre-K. This is the second year the center will have pre-K. It has extended hours and she said she expected around 12 children already attending the center would fill spots for this fall’s pre-K class.

There are 18 full-day spots at the Tribeca Early Childhood Center at 21 St. John’s Lane. This is the center’s second year of pre-K, Mary Sikarevich, director, said in a phone interview. The center has been open for two years and has 45 children attending, ages ranging from two to five. It does have extended hours, which she said costs $300 a month.

P.S. 89 will have 16 spots and P.S. 150 will have 18.

Spruce Street School, which has had pre-K since it opened in 2011, has this year one full-day class with 18 children and four half-day sections for a total of 72 students, said Nancy Harris, principal, in a phone interview. Come September, there will be two sections of full-day classes with 36 spots available, she said.

Two rooms will be used instead of three for pre-K. Spruce Street is expanding into middle school starting this fall with sixth grade, seventh grade in fall 2016 and eighth grade in fall 2017.

When asked if pre-K would affect the school’s middle school expansion plans, Harris said, “We don’t anticipate an issue for September or for the foreseeable future.”

She said she didn’t know how many years the school would have room for pre-K.

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