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City's First Charter School With a Pre-K Struggles for Space

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The city's first charter school to open its own pre-kindergarten program is still struggling to figure out how it fits into the overall plan. NY1’s Lindsey Christ filed the following report.

Months before Bill de Blasio was even elected, a new pre-K program opened in Red Hook, with two classes of four-year-olds.

Now, in its second year, the pre-K program at PAVE Academy is thriving, according to an independent research firm, kindergarten teachers, and parents.

“She's learned everything from how to greet a person to she's coming home and saying mommy I know five plus two is seven,” said parent Jessica Corrie.

But in recent weeks, administrators at the pre-K, known as pre-PAVE, have starting warning parents the program may close before next September, just when the city plans to expand universal pre-kindergarten by 20,000 more students.

The main issue? Space.

With Pave Academy adding an eighth grade, there will no longer be any extra room in this building.

“We need support from the city, we need their help to find space within our community because we want pre-Pave to stay in Red Hook,” said Meg Brown, the assistant director of Pre-Pave.

But there is another problem: state law didn't even allow charter schools to have pre-K programs until last spring. So pre-Pave opened as an officially independent organization, which means it doesn't qualify for space in a public school building and students are not guaranteed spots in the kindergarten, the type of legal technicalities that often leave parents scratching their heads with frustration.

“Most of the pre-Ks are like daycare. They don't really teach them anything. He's got homework here. He's learns math, he's learns English, he learns words of the week,” said parent Lorinda Cruz.

For months, administrators say they were reaching out to the city for help and advice and not hearing much back, now the city says it's committed to helping all programs and that pre-PAVE can still qualify for space in a public school building by applying in the next two weeks to become legally part of the charter school.

Parents say they don't really care how it happens or where it ends up, they just want their children to have access to good, high quality programs.

“Anywhere, I'll take them. Anywhere pre-Pave is, she's going to be there,” said Cruz.

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