On Roosevelt Island

Ben Kallos Joins Hands with Roosevelt Island Residents, Expanding Pre-K

Peter McCarthy
Pre-K Ribbon-Cutting with Ben Kallos at Roosevelt Island Day Nursery
Pre-K Ribbon-Cutting with Ben Kallos at Roosevelt Island Day Nursery
Photo Credit: Council Member Ben Kallos

After running on a platform calling for more Pre-K funding, City Council Member Ben Kallos began delivering right away, increasing the number of seats in his district 5-fold, with Roosevelt Island alone gaining 49.

It was an exhilarating moment for Roosevelt Island Parents' Network leader Eva Bosbach when Ben Kallos, early in his first term on the City Council, announced funding for 49 additional Pre K seats for the community.

Along with vigorous moral and philosophical support, Kallos acted as navigator, guiding the Roosevelt Island Day Nursery, led by Executive Director Pamela Stark, through the bureaucratic intricacies of the Department of Education in getting its application approved.

At the same time, Bosbach and Susy del Campo Perea organized fellow RIPN members Heart Sugiyama, Kaja Maede, Josie Chamla, Danielle Goldblatt and Nisha Nihan to collect names, numbers, stories of difficult commutes to off Island locations, along with calling and sending letters to elected officials and whatever additional spadework was needed.

"Having a sufficient number of UPK seats on Roosevelt Island strengthens our commitment to the international, diverse, mixed income island neighborhood, a community that is welcoming to all,” said Bosbach.

At a ribbon-cutting ceremony on Friday, Kallos shared his thoughts: "Universal Pre-Kindergarten means having a seat for every four-year old in their neighborhood where children can get an education and parents get the help they need in order to afford to live, work and raise a family in the city."

(Click on the above link for a video demonstration of why Kallos, if he intends to celebrate future events, needs to brush up on his ribbon-cutting skills.)

Playing a major role in doubling Pre-K seats on Roosevelt Island, Stark said, "The Roosevelt Island Day Nursery is thrilled to be able to offer three full day Universal Pre-K classes this year, making RIDN the largest UPK provider on Roosevelt Island and helping address the significant need for additional on-Island UPK options in our growing community."

Taking office in 2014, Kallos was aware of only 123 Pre-K seats available to help 2118 four-year-olds in his district. He swung into action and is now seeing results. 

Roosevelt Island, with the Parents' Network and the Day Nursery contributing muscle to the cause, is one of the lucky beneficiaries.

Correction: our first version of this story said that Council Member Kallos guided the RIPN through the application process. The application was actually made by the Roosevelt Island Day Nursery.

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