“There was significant voice that parents would send their children to a Catholic preschool,” said Deacon Steve Serembe, pastoral coordinator of St. Anthony. “Research has said that if you offer a child to be in a Catholic setting from an early age through age 23, they’re likely to be Catholic all their lives.”
Dcn. Serembe noted that the preschool could serve as “feeder” school to nearby St. Joseph School and St. Peter and St. Paul School, which recently expanded to include the lower primary grades.
St. Anthony still must go through the accreditation process with the State of California in order to receive a license to open. Some minor renovations in the classroom area of the parish must be made to accommodate the new preschool. Dcn. Serembe said the preschool could be open as soon as January or possibly September of 2013.
Since 2007, St. Adelaide Academy (Highland), Holy Rosary Academy (San Bernardino) and Sacred Heart Academy (Redlands) have all added preschool programs. Our Lady of the Assumption School (San Bernardino) is currently planning and fundraising for a preschool program.
Though there can be significant start-up costs to incur, new preschool programs provide additional enrollment revenue and a pipeline of students to the primary grades at the school.
“This is definitely a trend,” says Patricia Vesely, Superintendent of Schools for the diocese. “We see it as parents wanting Catholic formation early on for their children and we hope they continue to choose Catholic education.”