Westlake Little Explorers Preschool Could Close

THE NATOMAS BUZZ | @natomasbuzz
Updated Feb. 7, 2014

Publisher’s Note: The Westlake Charter school board on Feb. 6 unanimously passed a motion to keep the Westlake Little Explorers preschool open through the end of the school year, June 18. A substitute director has been hired to oversee the program.

Westlake Charter School officials could decide tonight whether to shutter a preschool program they say has been negatively impacted by a surge in teacher turnover.

The future of the Westlake Little Explorers program will be the topic of a special Westlake Charter school board meeting scheduled tonight, Feb. 13. The meeting will immediately follow the regularly scheduled board meeting set for 6:30 p.m.

Westlake Charter officials originally created the preschool program as a fundraising mechanism. While Westlake Little Explorers is also meant to prepare preschoolers for the rigors of the Westlake Charter curriculum, enrollment in the program does not provide additional priority, or guarantee admission, into the elementary school which admits students by lottery.

Westlake Little Explorers currently offers a two-, three- or five-day half-day program; a modified-traditional full-day program, and a full-day program for preschool-age children. But that could all change pending the school board’s decision whether to keep the program, operate it only through the end of the 2013-14 school year, or to close it altogether effective Feb. 28.

At issue, school officials say, is the recent turnover in teaching staff and program management. The most recent blow came when a preschool director hired in January resigned from the post less than a month later.

Westlake Charter officials said they worry about the impact these changes have had on the preschool students and learning. And without a preschool director at the helm, the program may be out of compliance with Title 22 rules which govern child care centers, possibly threatening the school’s charter status.

Parents of Westlake Little Explorers preschoolers said news of the potential closure comes as a blow, citing unconfirmed reports that cuts to preschool staff hours and benefits prompted the recent departures. Parents also complained Westlake Charter is eager to close the program because classroom space now being used by the preschool will be needed for the elementary school which is expected to grow for the 2014-15 school year.

Until a decision is made about the preschool’s future, applications for the 2014-15 year are being accepted. At the same time, Westlake Charter officials are researching area preschools to which to refer Westlake Little Explorer students to, should the program close.

The Westlake Charter School meeting will take place on the middle school campus, located at 1985 Pebblewood Drive.

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