WILLIAMSTOWN -- For the first time in 48 years, a local preschool won’t open its doors to students this fall.
Lori Kapiloff, president of the Little Red Schoolhouse’s board of directors, said Monday that low enrollment for the 2012-13 school year prompted a decision in mid-July to close the school for what will hopefully be a temporary period.
"Little Red is a great school, and it was a really sad day when we decided to close it, but it was the responsible thing to do. We have high hopes that it will reopen," she said.
The decision was made by a task force that was formed at the end of the school year after it was found there weren’t enough parents to serve on the school’s board of directors, she said.
The Little Red Schoolhouse, which has also been known as the Williamstown Cooperative Nursery School, opened in 1964 in a former school building just south of Five Corners in South Williamstown. The 1868 structure, formerly a one-room schoolhouse, was called the South Center School. The building is owned by the town and managed by the South Williamstown Community Association (SWCA).
Kapiloff said the Little Red Schoolhouse didn’t pay rent to the SWCA to use the building but did pay for utilities.
Efforts to reach Barbara McLucas, president of the SWCA, Monday afternoon were unsuccessful.
Kapiloff said that prior to making the decision to close the school, there were only five
"As far as I know, all five families have found other options," she said.
Enrollment for the Little Red Schoolhouse started to decline about two years ago after a large preschool class was sent onto kindergarten, she said.
"We struggled last year," Kapiloff said. "We were on course to make some changes to the school, but it was almost a little too late when we got going on some of the changes."
Those changes included extending the hours the school was opened to accommodate parents’ work schedules, and partnering with Cricket Creek Farm and the Williamstown Rural Lands Foundation to add some nature-based programming to the school’s curriculum, she said. The school was also in the process of looking for a new director, she said.
Kapiloff said the task force’s next step will be to determine the sustainability of the Little Red Schoolhouse based on local population trends.
"If we find in our research there just isn’t the population to support the number of preschools we have in town, then there is going to be some exploration of other options for the building," she said.
To reach Meghan Foley, email email@example.com.