Universal Prekindergarten Information & FAQ

    For the upcoming 2023-24 school year, the district will launch a Universal Prekindergarten Program in partnership with the Schenectady Jewish Community Center (SJCC). The program will be located at the SJCC on Balltown Road in Niskayuna. At this time, the district and JCC plan to open one classroom with 14 slots. More information about the program, registration and lottery process can be found below.

    What is the Universal Pre-K Program?

    The New York State Universal Prekindergarten Program (UPK) is funded by NYS and the NCSD to provide an educationally-based, high-quality, developmentally appropriate program to help 4-year-olds get ready for kindergarten. The UPK Program will run Monday through Friday from 8:30 am to 1:30 pm and will follow the Niskayuna Central School District calendar, except for certain Jewish Holidays. Here you can find the calendar.

    Who is Eligible for Pre-K?

    The NCSD/SJCC Pre-K program will be free to families residing in the Niskayuna school district with children who will be four years old on or before December 1, 2023.  Income eligibility is not a factor, and all families are allowed to apply.  Entrance to the program is through a lottery drawing held in the month of June.

    Niskayuna families who are already enrolled in the 2023-24 four-year-old preschool program at the Schenectady JCC are eligible to complete an application to be included in the lottery, but are not guaranteed a spot in the Niskayuna CSD UPK Program.

    Application for the lottery

    All applications for the lottery must be submitted by June 23, 2023 at 4 p.m. 

    You must complete this form for your child to be entered in the lottery: Lottery Entry Form 2023-2024 UPK Program. If you need help completing the form, please call the Registrar’s Office for assistance at 518-377-4666 x50714.

    The lottery drawing will take place on June 27, 2023

    For students selected in the lottery

    If you are selected in the lottery, you will be notified by June 30, 2023 and must accept or decline by July 7, 2023.

    Upon accepting a lottery slot, families will have 10 school days to submit the following paperwork to the registrar:

    1. If you are selected in the lottery, you will complete the online Registration Form 2023-2024 UPK Program.
    2. If you are selected in the lottery, you will be sent a registration packet.  The checklist linked here lists the forms and documents you will need to send to the Niskayuna CSD Central Registrar:

    By email to: Central Registrar – Dana Mazzone at: dmazzone@niskyschools.org

    By US Post to:

    Central Registrar – Dana Mazzone
    Niskayuna District Office
    1239 Van Antwerp Road
    Niskayuna, NY   12309

    By dropping off the packet: at the Niskayuna District Office.

    Frequently Asked Questions

    What are the hours of the UPK Program and where will the classes be held?

    The UPK Program will run Monday through Friday from 8:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. and will follow the calendar linked here.  The program will be housed at the Schenectady Jewish Community Center campus on Balltown Road, Niskayuna. The SJCC does offer before and after care as outlined below.

    What activities are involved in the UPK Program?

    The NCSD/SJCC UPK Program will be a play-based program which utilizes the Creative Curriculum to provide opportunities of all kinds for children to learn through play.  Teachers will develop lessons based on the New York State Prekindergarten Foundation of Common Core. The daily schedule will include activities such as Circle Time, Centers and Small Group Activities, Gross Motor Activities, Art, Music, Cooking, Library and Enrichment.

    No religious instruction will take place during and/or as part of the UPK Program.

    Is wrap-around care available for the hours outside of the UPK schedule?

    The SJCC Early Childhood Education program operates from 7:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. and wrap-around care is available for parents who need a longer school day outside of the 8:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. hours of our pre-K program.  Child care outside of our pre-K program hours is not covered by state funding.  For more information about wrap-around care availability, billing, etc please visit the Wrap Around Care page of the SJCC website.

    Are lunch and snacks provided?

    Children will be provided with a healthy snack in the morning based on a rotating menu that is approved by a certified nutritionist. Lunch will be provided to students whose families qualify for Free or Reduced meals through the National School Lunch Program. All other students will bring their lunch.

    Will transportation be provided?

    No transportation is provided for this program. Families are responsible for transportation to and from the UPK Program.

    If I fill out the application am I guaranteed a spot for my child?

    No.  Student placement will be decided using a lottery system.  While the district would like to offer the UPK program to every family who applies, it is possible that not all children who apply will get into the program. 

    For answers to other questions about the UPK Program, email: upk@niskyschools.org 

    For more information about the about the Schenectady JCC and its programs and services, please visit: http://www.schenectadyjcc.org/early-childhood/preschool.