will begin construction this summer to demolish its current building and build a .
The new building, which is part of an endeavor known as “The Lighthouse Project” to accommodate an increased numbers of members, ministries, and programs, will include many amenities. The $29 million end result will include additional parking, a media center and café, a 950-seat worship center, a multi-purpose room, and more.
But what the plan doesn’t include is , which has been housed on the church’s Black Rock Turnpike campus since 1969.
“A Loss for the Parents…the Kids…the Teachers”
Whether the decision not to include the preschool in the new building has to do with expense, stringent building codes for new preschools, or another reason . Attempts to reach a church elder or director were not returned to Patch.
Whatever the reason, the school’s closing is “a loss for the parents, it’s a loss for the kids, it’s a loss for the teachers,” parent Jay Desiderio said.
There are 17 teachers at Black Rock Nursery School, including the school’s director. All will be unemployed come June.
Approximately 100-110 children are enrolled during the average school year, according to Laura McCarthy, who has taught at the school for 10 years. Seventy families had registered for the 2012-2013 school year when it was announced the school would be closing.
“We probably would have had a lot more than 70 families,” McCarthy said. “It isn’t a dead school. It was thriving.”
McCarthy said that attempts were made to find a place to house the school elsewhere during construction and then permanently, but nothing materialized. She, the school’s director Ingrid Hansen, and a few other teachers are still looking, but McCarthy does not feel they will get far without support from the church.
“I feel terrible for the parents, I feel terrible for the children, and sad for those who will lose their jobs,” McCarthy said. “It just doesn’t seem like it was done the right way. It was really rough.”
Finding Another Preschool
Parents were notified in February about the school’s impending closing, about a month too late for other area preschools’ registration periods, according to Desiderio and another parent, Annette McCabe.
“If you got in somewhere else, you were lucky,” McCabe said. McCabe’s eldest graduated from Black Rock Nursery School last year, and her younger daughter will finish out her preschool years somewhere else.
“I’m sure she’ll be fine in her new school, but it’s just not the same,” McCabe said.
Desiderio agreed. He had hoped to keep his son -- his second child to go to Black Rock Nursery School -- at the school until he graduated.
“I know a lot of parents who probably wanted to do the same thing.”
“I’m Just Hoping That There’s a Miracle”
One parent is making the possible loss of the school into an opportunity to save it. Katie Holland, a Fairfield resident whose four children went through Black Rock Nursery School, has started a petition to ask the church elders to reconsider including the nursery school in the new building, and perhaps allow all of the church’s members to vote on the issue.
Holland hopes to collect 200 signatures on the petition, which can be viewed and signed here.
“They [the church elders] might just not be in touch with how important the school is to the community, and how special it is,” Holland said.
“It’s so much more than a school,” she added. “It’s sort of a bridge. These ladies truly love the families from their hearts.”
McCabe echoed Holland’s sentiments. Originally from New York, McCabe said she didn’t have much experience with suburban preschools, so it was “so surprising to see how great it was, how much they teach them.”
“I’m just hoping that there’s a miracle,” McCabe said of the petition. “I’ve talked to a lot of parents. If there’s a chance the school could stay open, they’d go back.”
Did you send your children through Black Rock Nursery School? Tell us about your experience in the comments.