Citing management issues and operations challenges, Notre Dame de Namur University is shutting down the campus’ Early Learning Center May 31.
The announcement came Wednesday from President Judith Greig in a letter to parents and teachers. In the letter, Greig said Notre Dame has been considering the future of the Early Learning Center for some time because the school, which serves preschool and kindergarten children, is not part of the core university mission.
“We have been discussing the future of the ELC at the senior management level for the past several years,” Greig said in an official statement. “Although the school does provide a valuable service, it also places a significant burden on NDNU management and resources that is becoming increasingly difficult to justify.”
The ELC was founded in 1964 by Sister Christina Trudeau, a sister of Notre Dame de Namur and pioneer in early childhood and Montessori education. It was intended to provide training for early childhood educators. However, the university no longer has an early childhood education program as part of its School of Education and Leadership. It currently has a three-year curriculum, with art, music, gardening and Spanish program.
Richard Rossi, director of communications, said the Montessori program has taken a lot of time from senior management. The university has been considering terminating the program for the last couple of years since it has taken up university resources, security and maintenance, he said.
“If it were really central to our mission that would fine, but it really isn’t anymore,” Rossi said. “Preschools are always dealing with issues and several teachers left just before the school year started to start their own school; it’s unfortunate we did not have more notice.”
He noted teacher and management turnover, along with other turmoil, have taken up more and more management time. Running the program also required having a number of Montessori certified teachers, which are difficult to find, he said, adding to the management challenges.
“There’s plenty of other places in San Mateo that offer that (preschool) service,” he said.
For the 2012-13 school year, the cost of tuition for the preschool was $7,690. Kindergarten was $9,145 for half day, $10,000 for a full day and $12,600 for an extended day, which included after-school Spanish lessons. The school ran from September through May and also held a summer Spanish program for four weeks — with two two-week sessions — in June and July, according to the program’s website.
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