Parents dropping their children off for nursery school at Sacred Heart Catholic Academy of Bayside are not sure where their kids will go to preschool in September.

The city Education Department has canceled its Universal Pre-K program at the school.

What You Need To Know

  • The Department of Education is not renewing contracts at five Catholic schools in Brooklyn and Queens for their Universal Pre-K programs

  • Some school administrators are concerned the loss of the program will impact the school's funding and future enrollment

  • A DOE spokeswoman said the department is adding hundreds more Pre-K seats in communities yet to be chosen

Catherine Campbell says she might be forced to deal with two different school drop offs next year if the program is not reinstated.

“Our first daughter started here in nursery and we’re just going through the grades. So we want to continue going to school here and have our kids in the same program. And the program should be citywide, if it was here once, it should stay,” said Campbell.

Sacred Heart Bayside has had 36 Pre-K slots and six Pre-K staff since the program began here in 2015. 

Administrators say the program is so popular, there is a waiting list.

It is free and does not include any religious instruction. 

However, parents of students in other grades at the school must pay tuition.

Principal Alexandra Conlan says the city ending the program here could imact grade school enrollment and hurt the school financially.

“It is also an entrance into our kindergarten program. Although not all students attend our kindergarten program, it does help generate enrollment for that,” said Conlan.

The city cut Pre-K programs at four other Diocese of Brooklyn schools, affecting more than 200 seats and nearly 30 employees. 

Alison Kondal, the director of the Pre-K for All program at Sacred Heart Catholic Academy of Glendale, says the city offered only vague reasons for the cuts. 

“It wasn’t really clear,” said Kondal. “At that point we filed an appeal and to date we have not yet received an answer on our appeal.”

An Education Department spokeswoman did not explain why the department did not renew its Pre-K contracts with the five Catholic schools. But she said the department is adding hundreds more Pre-K seats in communities yet to be chosen.

She said the five schools would be allowed to submit proposals to once again be Pre-K sites if their communities are selected for the additional seats. That offers some hope, but little certainty, for parents and staff at Sacred Heart Catholic Academy of Bayside.