SCRANTON, LACKAWANNA COUNTY (WBRE/WYOU) — It’s been two years since the Scranton School District stopped its pre-K program as part of its recovery plan.

Now, a non-profit will soon fill that void with a new learning center for children. For decades a building on William Street in Scranton was home to the former Holy Rosary School. It will now be a pre-K center.

“It closed in 2007 and since then, we have been looking for an opportunity to provide use for the building and also a use for the community,” Mary Mother of God Parish Pastor Reverend Cyril Edwards said.

“When we saw the need of 180 children are going to be impacted for low-income families in our area, we started looking for building space to make it happen,” Agency for Community Empowerment executive director James Wansacz said.

The Scranton School District voted in 2019 to eliminate pre-K, librarians, music and more as part of its recovery plan to become financially stable. Agency for Community Empowerment purchased the former school the same year, a building that sat empty for more than a decade, in hopes of one day to help those families impacted.

“We get them into the school districts, get them ready for kindergarten, we provide the wrap-around services that families need, we insure that the health care is being taken care of,” Wansacz said.

There will be three floors converted. Each floor represents a phase in construction. A press conference was held Tuesday as Phase One is completed, which includes five classrooms for children ages zero to five.

“We have such a strong community here. This is an example of how we come together for our kids in Scranton and northeastern Pennsylvania,” Scranton Mayor Paige Cognetti said.

Phase One and Two of the project is expected to cost $2.4 million. That includes the purchase of the building. Federal, state, county, city and foundation grant dollars are footing the bill.

“Provide actual hope to the next generation. So we are right here in the neighborhood in our city investing in our next generation,” John Cosgrove of AllOne Foundation said.

Phase Two of the construction is expected to start in the coming months. The building is expected to be open in July.