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Massive New Pre-K Center Will Rise at New York Hall of Science, City Says

By Katie Honan | August 19, 2016 8:48am
 The center, set to open in 2019, will add hundreds of seats, officials said. 
The center, set to open in 2019, will add hundreds of seats, officials said. 
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CORONA — A new pre-K center with hundreds of new seats and a curriculum focused on STEAM is set to open in 2019 at the New York Hall of Science, DNAinfo New York has learned. 

The collaboration between the city and the science museum at Flushing Meadows-Corona Park will add even more early education seats, which have already increased more than tenfold since Mayor Bill de Blasio launched his universal pre-K initiative.

"We are excited to work with the city on this opportunity because it has the potential to make a significant lasting impact in our community," said Margaret Honey, the president and CEO of NYSCI. 

Construction details are still in the works, and it's not immediately clear where it will be built by the science center.

It's expected to open by September 2019, and will have between 250 and 300 seats, officials said.

In the meantime, more pre-K seats will be made available starting this September in schools throughout Corona — although many of the seats will be in trailers, which the DOE called a "short-term solution" to address demand.

Through the 2016-2017 and 2018-2018 school years, there will be 312 pre-K seats for students at P.S. 7, P.S 28 and P.S. 16, according to the DOE. 

This includes three classes inside P.S. 7 in Elmhurst and four inside trailers installed at the school; six classes inside trailers at P.S. 28 in Corona; and four classes inside trailers at P.S. 16 in Corona.

The trailers each have their own bathrooms and lunch will be brought in for students, officials said. There will still be outdoor space for recess, officials added. 

Deputy Chancellor Josh Wallack said the DOE's outreach team "will continue to connect with families and help them explore their pre-K options for the 2016-17 school year.”

Since the mayor's office launched universal pre-K, available space has grown from less than 100 seats in 2013 to more than 2,500, officials said. 

But like so many of the overcrowded schools in District 24 and District 30, space is still at a premium. Wait-listed students in Long Island City will also attend pre-K in trailers, the DOE announced last week.

Councilwoman Julissa Ferreras-Copeland said finding the space for pre-K in her district — which is one of the most overcrowded in the city — is a "priority."

"While trailers are not a long-term solution, they are the best option to keep children local and provide for immediate spaces for a short time frame," she said.

"This will be a fantastic opportunity to expose our youngest minds to science and technology."