St. Luke's Preschool Set to Close Despite Dozens on Waitlist

By Janet Upadhye on May 5, 2014 5:26pm 

Slideshow
 St. Luke's Lutheran Church and Academy will close this year due to a diminishing congregation and much-needed building repairs, the Metropolitan New York Synod announced.
St. Luke's Lutheran Church and Academy
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CLINTON HILL — Local parents recently launched a petition to block the closure of a decades-old and much-loved preschool that has dozens of children on the waitlist.

St. Luke's Academy Preschool, cited in the petition as a "pillar of the community," is located in the parish hall of St. Luke’s Lutheran Church, which was recently slated for closure due to a shrinking congregation and an aging building that's in need of $10 million in repairs.

The secular private preschool has 32 students and 50 more on a waiting list for the upcoming school year.

Parents started the petition on May 1 to urge the Metropolitan Lutheran Synod of New York, which oversees the building, to reconsider its decision to shut down the school on Aug. 31. The petition had generated more than 300 signatures of support as of Monday afternoon.

Parents have suggested that St. Luke's parish hall could serve as a rental meeting space for local groups on nights and weekends, with proceeds going toward building-repair costs.

The hall needs a new boiler, new windows and roof repairs, according to the school’s director Deborah Jackson. It is unclear how much these repairs would cost or if they were  factored into the $10 million pricetag for the church.

Parents praised the little school that was founded in the 1970s and offers yoga, French and sign language to its students. They said they fear the neighborhood is running out of quality, affordable school options for preschoolers.

“There is a huge shortage of affordable daycares/preschools, and even fewer affordable high-quality ones,” Kendra Prasada wrote on the petition. “Brooklyn and Clinton Hill need more schools for young children like St. Luke's, not less.”

St. Luke’s charges $950 a month for full-time students, whereas the nearby Co-op School in Fort Greene costs $1,350. The Montessori School in Park Slope charges even more — $1,650 per month for similar programs.

The petition urged the Synod to leave the preschool open until June 2015 in order to give parents a chance to find new schools for their kids.

The Synod of New York did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Parents are holding a meeting at St. Luke's Parish Hall, 259 Washington Ave., on May 7 at 7 p.m. to discuss strategies on how to save the preschool.

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