Mayor de Blasio Announces Start of Construction of New 306 Seat Steam Pre-K Center in Corona Queens

  • Posted: Thu Oct 31, 2019

Scheduled to open in Fall 2021, this state-of-the-art Pre-K Center will offer STEAM educational programming in partnership with the New York Hall of Science

NEW YORK—Mayor de Blasio, Deputy Mayor Phil Thompson, Schools Chancellor Richard A. Carranza, and School Construction Authority President and CEO Lorraine Grillo today announced the start of construction of a new STEAM focused Pre-K Center in Flushing Meadows – Corona Park, Queens. The 306 seat state-of-the-art center will offer students a robust STEAM (science, technology, engineering, art, and math) education in partnership with the New York Hall of Science (NYSCI). Through this partnership, students and families will have direct access to resources available at the world-renowned New York Hall of Science, including specialized professional learning and coaching for teachers, and continuous opportunities for family and community engagement. The Pre-K Center will be the first of its kind in New York City – pioneering a focus on early childhood STEAM education, and a leading partnership with a central cultural institution. 

“Free, full-day, high-quality Pre-K puts our kids on the path to success, and we have made it a right – not a privilege – for every 4-year-old in New York City,” said Mayor Bill de Blasio. “This new Pre-K Center is proof of our commitment to expanding Pre-K to meet the needs of every community, and investing in state-of-the-art STEAM education for our children.”

“Climate change and digital technology will in coming decades change the face of New York City and how everyone in the world lives and works,” said Deputy Mayor Phil Thompson. “It will change how government functions as well. This Pre-K Center at the Hall of Science will help prepare our youngest learners to be on the cutting edge of industry, science, and governance in the years to come.”

“We’re thrilled to partner with the New York Hall of Science on this state-of-the-art, STEAM-focused Pre-K Center that will benefit hundreds of children and families for generations to come,” said Schools Chancellor Richard A. Carranza. “Thank you to Mayor de Blasio, Governor Cuomo, and all of the representatives from this community who listened to the needs of our families and worked with us to foster greater learning opportunities for our City’s youngest students.”

This year, we saw promising signs that students are seeing benefits from free, full-day, high-quality Pre-K for All in our third-grade test scores. Last year’s third graders were the first to participate in a universal Pre-K for All, and they outperformed all other testing grades in ELA and Math. Students who went through Pre-K for all are also outperforming students who didn’t, and the White-Black and White-Hispanic achievement gaps were narrower for students who attended Pre-K for All compared to those who did not, illustrating the long term benefits of the program.

Research shows that STEAM learning should start at a young age to maximize its benefits and effectiveness in children. Children are naturally curious and learn through hands-on activity—both of which are central to scientific exploration. A growing number of studies show a positive correlation between early experiences with STEAM subjects and later success in those subjects and in school generally. In addition, a STEAM-based curriculum teaches students how to think critically, work collaboratively, and develop creative solutions to everyday problems. With its participation in DOE’s Diversity in Admission program, this Pre-K Center will create opportunity for a diverse group of District 24 students, including Emergent Multilingual Learners and students who qualify for Free and Reduced-Price Lunch.

Built by the School Construction Authority, the 306 seat STEAM-focused Pre-K Center at 47-01 111th Street will be fully ADA-accessible and include:

  • 17 Pre-K classrooms
  • Two exercise rooms and outdoor playground
  • Community and parent room

“Today’s announcement is a remarkable win for our youngest students in Corona and Elmhurst. Once we complete this new state-of-the-art STEAM facility, we will be relocating students currently located in Transportable Classroom Units at PS 28, PS 16 and PS 7,” said New York City School Construction President and Chief Executive Officer Lorraine Grillo. “We will demolish seven TCUs at these schools that will result in new outdoor play space for students. This marks the culmination of tremendous teamwork among the Mayor, several City agencies and elected officials to spearhead the creation of new Pre-K seats that will not only help to close the access gap to early education programs, but will dramatically improve the learning experience for hundreds of children.”

“Our city’s cultural institutions are extraordinary partners and unrivaled resources when it comes to engaging and educating NYC school students,”said Cultural Affairs Commissioner Tom Finkelpearl. “This new STEAM focused Pre-K Center at the Hall of Science will take this partnership to the next level, giving hundreds of young students access to the extraordinary programming that has attracted generations of New Yorkers to this Flushing Meadows – Corona Park.” 

Corona, Queens is a vibrant and rapidly growing community with an increasing need for Pre-K seats. In addition to helping meet that need for seats, this project will serve as an anchor for STEAM in the Corona community.  Every student in the Pre-K Center will receive a free, family membership to NYSCI, expanding learning opportunities for students and their families.  Moreover, the project has sparked a community-wide planning process around STEAM, working with parents, academic institutions, community-based organizations, cultural institutions and local leaders to solicit their goals, objectives, and values and create a shared vision for the future. The first community vision session is scheduled for November 13th, from 5-7:30PM at PS 19 and will be conducted in conjunction with the Pratt Institute and the Domenico-American Society.  

 “This will be a top-flight Pre-K Center right here in Queens for the growing families of Corona starting September 2021,” said Queens Borough President Melinda Katz. “Its coveted STEAM education will help open worlds of limitless opportunities for thousands of our children's futures. Thanks to everyone for their tireless efforts to maximize safety at this site while preserving existing access to roads and highways for local residents." 

"We aim for our early education public schools to be the envy of the world. With advocacy for the introduction of cultural programming, increased investments in Arts, Sciences, and newer forms of thought and exploration -- we strive for progress towards one singular goal: ensuring universal comprehensive education for every child in the State of New York. The passage of S.6250 paves the way for this construction and operation of a Pre-kindergarten center with a focus on instruction in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics. That work will begin right here in Corona, Queens with the addition of state of the art free, full-day Pre-K facilities following a STEAM model which strengthens local families and surrounding communities,"  said State Senator Jessica Ramos. 

“Pre-K is the foundation for Kindergarten which allows children to strengthen their social and emotional development. I am happy that 306 additional seats will be added in the Corona, Queens Community. I look forward to the completion of this school and its opening.  I appreciate all the governmental partners who cooperated in making this a realty. Particularly the late Senator Jose Peralta and now Senator Jessica Ramos,” said Assembly Member Jeff Aubry. 

“This center doesn’t just address the immediate needs of Corona’s kids, it also represents an investment in their future,” said Council Member Francisco Moya. “Providing for our children goes beyond finding a classroom for them — we have to nourish their imaginations and support their interests. This Pre-K, with help from its world-class STEAM program, will help our young New Yorkers explore their creativity and give them a head start on the skills that increasingly shape our world. I applaud all those who came together to make this possible.”  

“The entire staff at NYSCI – educators, researchers, Explainers – is thrilled to be partnering with DOE to develop a science-themed pre-K program based on our Design-Make-Play methodology and implement it at a dedicated school on our Corona campus,” said Margaret Honey, President and CEO of the New York Hall of Science. “This unique collaboration leverages the strengths of both organizations to develop the next generation of STEM leaders among the youngest students. We are grateful to the commitment and foresight of the public officials who are making this happen.” 

Parents with children enrolled in free, full-day pre-K save an average of $10,000 annually on childcare costs. Additionally, a 2017 NYU study found that Pre-K for All increases the chance that a low-income child in New York City is properly diagnosed with asthma or vision problems and receives screenings or treatment for hearing or vision problems. 94 percent of NYC Pre-K for All programs assessed from 2015-16 through 2017-18 scored at or above a national threshold correlated with positive student outcomes, up from 88 percent of the programs assessed from 2014-15 through 2016-17 and on par with nationally recognized programs.  

Pre-K for All and 3-K for All are part of the Mayor and Chancellor’s Equity and Excellence for All agenda. Together, the Equity and Excellence for All initiatives are building a pathway to success in college and careers for all students. 3-K for All and Pre-K for All are strengthening foundational skills and instruction earlier; Universal Literacy is working towards ensuring every student is reading on grade level by the end of 2nd grade; and Algebra for All is improving elementary- and middle-school math instruction and ensuring that all 8th graders have access to algebra. Equity and Excellence for All is also offering students more challenging, hands-on, college and career-aligned coursework – Computer Science for All brings 21st-century computer science instruction to every school, and AP for All is giving all high school students access to at least five Advanced Placement courses. Along the way, they are giving students and families additional support through College Access for All, Single Shepherd, and investment in Community Schools. Efforts to create more diverse and inclusive classrooms, outlined in the 2017 New York City school diversity plan and through diversity pilots taking root in 8 districts, are central to this pathway.