City to transform Sunset Park warehouse into 72-seat pre-K

New pre-K center: The School Construction Authority is in the process of transforming this one-story warehouse on 25th Street between Fourth and Fifth avenues into a 72-seat pre-K.
Photo by Jordan Rathkopf

Sunset Park is getting a new pre-K center.

The School Construction Authority plans to erect a new 72-seat pre-K over an old flooring warehouse on 25th Street to bolster access to early childhood education in the borough’s School District 15. And the new seats are a boon to parents struggling to land a spot in the packed district, said one local.

“It’s tough getting your kids into the center you want when there’s so many vying for a small pool,” said Sunset Parker Anita Palepu, who was lucky enough to snag one of 18 seats for her son at the Sunset Park Children’s school. “The more seats the better.”

Schoolhouses in District 15 — which stretches from Cobble Hill to Sunset Park — are more than 2,600 students over their collective capacity, according to city records. And the problem is growing faster than the city expected. In 2012 officials predicted that enrollment in the district would not hit 30,000 students until 2019 — but it is currently more than 32,600, city data shows.

And that spike in growth has left the city scrambling to find space for new schools and pre-K sites, according to the district manger of Community Board 7.

“There is a need for seats for all ages in this district,” said Jeremy Laufer.

The new Little Brooklyn Pre-K Center on 25th Street will become one of 66 sites in the district where 4-year-olds can enroll in free, early childhood programs and is part of the city’s $800 million investment to add 8,200 pre-K seats citywide by 2019, according to the city.

There were more than 3,000 pre-K seats in District 15 available as part of the Round 1 application for Fall 2017, up from less than 900 seats in the 2013–14 school year. For families that did not apply for Round 1 of pre-K admissions, Round 2 will open on April 20, according to the Department of Education.

“We are excited to open 72 new pre-K seats at the Little Brooklyn Pre-K Center at 219 25th Street,” said spokesman department Will Mantell. “Through Pre-K for All, we’ve more than tripled the number of free, full-day, high-quality pre-K seats in District 15 since 2013–14, and our pre-K outreach specialists will continue to work with families to find the right pre-K seat for their child this fall.”

Students from across District 15 are welcome to enroll at the site, which will divvy up the pupils into four classes of 18 students. Construction broke ground at the former warehouse in April 2016 and the city aims to open its doors in September for the start of the new school year.

Reach reporter Caroline Spivack at cspivack@cnglocal.com or by calling (718) 260–2523. Follow her on Twitter @carolinespivack.

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