By Jessica Easthope
Aubrey Christian is starting school next year. When you’re as young as she is, the sky’s the limit.
Her mom Dena hoped to enroll her in Sacred Heart Catholic Academy of Glendale’s universal pre-K program next year like she did with her son, Jeremy, because it’s where he reached his full potential.
“He came home every day with new information he was learning, about the different chapters they were going through and I’m really sad that my daughter’s not going to be able to experience that,” Dena told Currents News.
Sacred Heart’s UPK program is one of 105 across the city that will no longer exist come next year. Four are at other Catholic schools in the Diocese of Brooklyn. Now Dena doesn’t know if she’ll be able to pay to send Aubrey to Sacred Heart, and she says it feels like the school is being punished.
“We’re a Catholic organization and we’ve been open five days a week and the DOE can’t pull that off. And I feel like we’re being punished for that, and it’s not fair,” said Dena.
Other parents feel the same way.
“It does feel like religious schools are being singled out, and it just seems disappointing and frustrating that there’s no clear reason why it’s being defunded,” said Lisa and Ryan Huber, who have a son in first grade at Sacred Heart and a daughter in the UPK program.
Right now, the school has 54 pre-K students, has been open during the pandemic and is running UPK for nearly $8,000 less per-student than it costs the city, so why would it get cut?
“The reason we were given for the rejection was other programs in the area received higher quality scores, but I haven’t gotten concrete information as to what that means. We’ve received great program assessments, wonderful feedback on the parents survey every year so I really am baffled,” said Alison Kondel, the Director of Sacred Heart’s UPK program.
She has appealed the city’s decision, and says having no UPK would be a devastating blow to the community.
“We offer early morning drop-off, we offer an after-school program as well, so for us to not be in existence with UPK will really hurt the working families in the area,” she said.
The Department of Education has not returned Currents News’ request for comment. If Sacred Heart’s appeal isn’t approved, administrators say they have no choice but to tell parents within the next two weeks that pre-K tuition for next year will cost around $5,000-a-child.