2015-09-09 / Features

LIC Pre-K Opening Could Face Delay

BY LIZ GOFF

An item posted recently on the Department of Education (DOE)’s Facebook page showed that a new Universal Pre-K program for 270 youngsters in Long Island City is currently not scheduled to open for the start of the 2015/16 school year.

The item posted under the banner “Pre-K For Everyone,” indicated that a Pre-K program slated to open on September 9 at the former Most Precious Blood School building at 32-52 37th St.would not open for the upcoming school year. The item appeared on the DOE Facebook page on the morning of August 28, on a list updating the status of DOE Pre-K programs. The information was still on the Facebook page as of September 7.

A DOE spokesperson told the Gazette that ongoing construction at the building could delay opening of the new Pre-K. “It’s possible that the building is not yet quite ready,” the spokeswoman said.

The spokeswoman said parents who accepted an offer for their youngster to attend the Most Precious Blood Pre-K, but did not register their child, should go to the walk-in registration center listed on their on paperwork to confirm when classes can begin at the former parochial school building.

“Just because some sites are not currently ready to open does not mean they will not be ready on or about September 9,” the spokeswoman said. A large number of youngsters will be registered for the city’s 2015-16 Universal Pre-K program on the first day of school, due to the heavy response for seats.

Neighbors of the Most Precious Blood Pre-K Program this week told the Gazette that renovations at the former parochial school building appeared to move slowly throughout the summer.

When work is completed, the building must pass inspections by the Fire Department, the city Department of Buildings and a list of other state and city agencies before it can open.

An FDNY source said the agency performs strict code inspections at new and renovated sites, particularly when buildings are for use by minor children. The buildings must pass a series of fire prevention inspections and must be equipped with working sprinklers, fire doors, proper exits, smoke and carbon monoxide alarms, fire escapes, FDNY approved locks and window guard locks, emergency escape doors and other working systems, the source said.

“FDNY inspectors adhere to the strictest building code requirements in the city,” the source said. “Especially at sites designed for use by minor children.”

The Gazette has filed a Freedom Of Information Law (FOIL) request with the Department of Education (DOE), the City Department of Finance, the Diocese of Brooklyn and the City Comptroller’s office for full disclosure of all lease, rental, contract and contract lease agreements between DOE and the Diocese for the building at 32-52 37th St., to determine when an agreement was signed between the parties and how much the city will be paying for use of the building.

Operators of several other Queens Pre- K programs told the Gazette that DOE regularly pays $15 per square-foot for space in existing school buildings and other sites.

A spokesperson for Comptroller Scott Stringer who responded to the Gazette FOIL request said the office does not currently have any contract, lease or rental document for the Long Island City building.

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