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Children's Center to remain open next fall pending sustainable enrollmentMay 27, 2014
Regis College, working collaboratively with a small group of area parents on a common goal, will attempt to sustain operations at the Regis Children’s Center.
“We have worked out a viable plan with the potential to sustain operation of the Children’s Center,” said Regis president Antoinette Hays today, “and nothing makes me happier. The Children’s Center will re-open in the Fall of 2014 with the approval of the Regis College Board of Trustees,” she continued, “and continue providing the quality pre-school educational experience it has always provided.”
The Regis Children’s Center is among the few in New England accredited by the National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC).
Closure of the pre-school Children’s Center and the Academy kindergarten in June had been announced to parents of enrolled children by letter in late April. Parents concerned about finding placements for their children for next year credited the excellence of the offered programs and eagerly met with Regis president Antoinette M. Hays, PhD, RN, at the gathering she called together on May 2.
The outcome of the May 2 meeting was two-fold. Parents better understood the financial impact of uneven and low enrollment in relation to state and accrediting agency standards, and President Hays committed the College to reconsider closure and to include parent representatives to see if the College and the parents could work out an alternative. The focus of the small-group meetings in the past three weeks was the Children’s Center, not “The Academy,” or Regis kindergarten. The enrollment in the Academy had dropped considerably, and the Academy will not re-open.
With a total enrollment capacity of 75 children, both programs reached only 50 in the past year, with many in that number being enrolled for only occasional or minimal, pro-rated participation. State and accrediting agency standards, however, require teaching presence at a certain level. In the Academy Kindergarten this spring, for example, 11 children were enrolled, but slight age differences required two classes having only 5 and 6 children, respectively, with 2-4 teachers.
Similarly, on any given day, out of 40 possible children, from 19 to 36 children would be present in the Children’s Center, with varying schedules paid per hour. The number 40 did not indicate a “full pay,” 8-hours-a-day participation. Some children might be there 2 days a week for 4 hours; some just in the morning; some all day for 5 days a week.
In both programs, Regis employed 16 teachers over all, sometimes with only 32 children attendant. While such a model provided a service, it obviously could not achieve a sustainable fiscal potential.
As of the April letter from Regis to the parents, only 42 total students with varying schedules had been enrolled for both programs in the autumn.
The new, more sustainable fiscal model for the Children’s Center, or preschool, was presented to the designated small group of parents by Regis Vice-President of Finance and Business Thomas G. Pistorino. It proposed 1) a smaller operation, 2) with firm parental commitments to enrollment, and 3) the earlier annual review for viability by the College, which will take place each December.
“We are not merely extending the Children’s Center for one more year to give parents an opportunity to think ahead and make other plans,” said Vice President Pistorino, “but intend to keep the Children’s Center operating as long as it meets annual viability.”
The Regis campus is noted for its intergenerational character from pre-school to summer high school programs, to the four-year college experience and thriving graduate programs at the heart of the College, including two doctoral degree programs, and Lifelong Learning at Regis College (LLARC), a well-known educational program for local retired seniors.