CHAMPLAIN — With the loss of St. Mary’s Academy here, 13 pre-kindergarten students are among those left without a program.
The Champlain Children’s Learning Center in Rouses Point hopes to pick up those slots and offer an educational opportunity for those displaced families.
The Learning Center runs the Universal Pre-K program for Northeastern Clinton Central School. It currently has 32 slots for 4-year-olds who live in the district. Since St. Mary’s Academy’s closure was announced, Learning Center officials have been working to secure licensing to pick up the 13 slots.
According to Learning Center Director Becky Filion, at least six displaced St. Mary’s families have contacted them so far to inquire about the upcoming school year.
“We’ve probably got about 11 slots left that we could fill, if we’re able to get the expansion,” she said. “Within the next few weeks, we’ll be able to give an answer.”
Filion has established a waiting list for the expected expansion, so they will be able to gauge interest in the program. The Learning Center has already contacted teachers and staff to hire if the second classroom is approved.
According to Ann Leduc, Learning Center Board of Directors president, keeping those spaces is critical to retaining their program in the future.
“We’re hoping we do get the calls and the need is there because it’s my understanding that the state runs the UPK program based on the previous year’s attendance,” she said.
“So if families don’t come to us for those 13 slots, the state will say those 13 slots are lost to NCCS for the following year.”
Filion urges families considering the move to the Learning Center to stop in and visit.
AFTER CARE, 3-YEAR-OLDS
The Universal Pre-K program is not the only casualty of St. Mary’s closure. There was also an after-school program and another for 3-year-olds, which Leduc says are areas in which the Learning Center can step in and help. They offer an after-school program for all children from kindergarten through age 12.
“We also have options for 3-year-olds, as well as after-school programs and day care for the children who are 4 in the pre-K program, because sometimes parents need day care before or after the UPK program,” Filion said.
“I think it’s important for the community to know the center is there and available to help with this,” Leduc said.
The Universal Pre-K program is taught by New York-state certified teachers. To qualify, along with living in the NCCS School District, students have to be 4 years old by Dec.1.
The Learning Center has existed since 1998. It opened with eight children and is now licensed for 116. It offers programs for children from 6 weeks to 12 years old.
Families in the NCCS District interested in enrolling their child on the Universal Pre-K waiting list should call the Learning Center at 297-2019, Ext. 0.