Sept. 11, 2015 By Jackie Strawbridge
A new pre-K center at the former Most Precious Blood school is vastly underutilized, with only 16 students enrolled, according to the District Superintendent.
This center was originally intended to seat 270 students across 15 classes.
It is located at 32-52 37th St., in a building that was previously home to the Most Precious Blood Catholic school. Church leadership abruptly closed the Catholic school this year, and the DOE secured a lease there earlier this summer.
By August, pre-K enrollment numbers did not justify 15 classes, so the DOE cut plans to seven classrooms, District 30 Superintendent Philip Composto said.
Most of those rooms now sit freshly painted, cleaned and empty.
Ultimately, sixteen students were enrolled for the first day; they are split into two classes of eight students each, according to Composto.
The Most Precious Blood pre-K center is an unusual case for District 30, one of the most overcrowded districts in the city, where school buildings are typically jam-packed.
Upon hearing about the spare space, members of District 30’s Community Education Council immediately wondered how it could be used to alleviate overcrowding in other areas of the district.
“We’re paying for an entire school for 16 children, [it’s] crazy,” CEC member Jeff Guyton said. “It just opens up possibilities everywhere.”
“These classrooms are a long term investment in Queens and we are continuing to enroll students at this site, and are pleased to offer free, full-day, high quality [pre-K] at this site for years to come,” DOE spokesperson Jason Fink said in an email.
Fink did not respond to questions regarding the terms of the lease or potential uses for the underutilized building.
Composto noted that before students from overcrowded schools could be brought into the Most Precious Blood building, a public hearing would have to be held.
Meanwhile, for the few families enrolled at the Most Precious Blood pre-K, the year is off to a pleasant start.
Parent and Hallets Cove resident Maritza Baqueiro said she was surprised and excited about the center’s small class sizes.
“[It means] more playtime, more attention that [my daughter] will get from adults,” Baqueiro said. “I’m kind of happy that it’s like that.”
Carmela Olaechea said she spent most of her summer scrambling for a pre-K seat after her son was waitlisted at P.S. 166, which she lives close to. The process was “ridiculous” and “really stressful,” she said.
“Thank God they opened Most Precious Blood as a pre-K center,” she added. “My son likes it and it’s only a couple of kids, which means more attention for him.”
Families interested in learning more about pre-K or enrolling a child can visit the DOE website here.