By Emily Drooby
St. Joseph Catholic Academy’s Pre-K program has been reinstated.
After spending months believing the program where his daughter flourished would be closing, Hany Saad was thrilled to discover that New York City’s decision on it had changed, and that it would still be around for his younger son.
“With Maria actually, she learned a lot, she has a lot of friends, she’s happy actually coming to school to learn to play,” he said of his daughter. “I want the same thing for Mark.”
The reinstatement is a big win for the Long Island City school.
“We are thrilled that we will be able to provide the service for local families here at St. Joseph,” said Lucy Alaimo, sthe “Pre-K for All” Program Education Director at St. Joseph Catholic Academy.
Back in September of 2020, the New York City Department of Education announced they were dropping 105 of their free Pre-K for All programs. Five of them, including St. Joseph, were Catholic schools in the Diocese of Brooklyn.
Schools immediately appealed but were left in limbo for months as the city made their determinations. Those decisions were finally handed down this week.
“Our voices were heard,” said Thomas Chadzutko, the Superintendent of Catholic Schools for Brooklyn and Queens. “They did say that the schools were very well established and they were able to find additional financial resources because the areas that were renewed, there was a need for Pre-K for all programs.”
The previously affected Catholic schools whose contracts have now been renewed for the 2021-2022 academic year are Sacred Heart Catholic Academy, Glendale, St. Joseph Catholic Academy, Long Island City, and St. Catherine of Genoa-St. Thérèse of Lisieux Catholic Academy, Flatbush.
Unfortunately, two schools were not renewed: St. Stanislaus Kostka Catholic Academy in Greenpoint and Sacred Heart Academy in Bayside.
While Chadzutko said officials at the Department of Education have been great about working with them during this ordeal, they did not tell them why the two schools were not renewed. They have asked for an answer.
“We know it’s a competitive process, but we also want to know, in any competition, why did we not make it to the finish line and what could we have done differently. So, I think that’s important to note,” said Chadzutko.
St. Joseph credits 1,700 parents and alumni who spoke out to lawmakers.
If it had not gone their way, they would have been forced to cut 10 jobs.
“Words can’t express what that means to me and all the teachers and staff here at St. Josephs,” said Lucy.
The decision was handed down just in time as enrollment for Pre-K for All begins Wednesday, January 24.
The schools that were not renewed will continue to appeal for their program with the help of the Superintendent’s Office and are also looking into other options.