St. Martin’s Nursery School could soon be forced to close its doors on the eve of its 50th anniversary.
Parents and caregivers at St. Martin’s, which operates out of St. Martin’s Anglican Church near the north end of Woodroffe Avenue, have been given until Nov. 30 to find a way to keep the program open.
Although the junior kindergarten program is still in good shape, the school’s pre-kindergarten program is struggling.
“We’re suffering from low enrolment in the two- to three-year-old program,” says Tricia Ross, the spokesperson for parents at the nursery. “We have less than half of the maximum students per day.”
The program can support up to 48 students, according to Sheila Kennedy, the Director of the Nursery School. Currently the largest group has 22 students who come by on Tuesday and Thursday mornings.
“Through our program we see confidence building and language skills developing in the children,” says Kennedy. “They gain the confidence to approach other children, and adults.”
A total of 36 students attend the school during the week, including three students with disabilities.
In a meeting on Nov. 4, parents sat down with the board to present potential fundraising ideas. Ross says that leading up to the conference, a 10 per cent fee increase had been suggested.
“There are parents who are willing to increase their fees beyond what the board has asked,” says Ross. “Many families are willing to start writing checks for double the fees now.”
As it stands, parents can choose to enrol their children in a two, three, or five half-day program. This has a monthly cost of between $150 and $368, plus a one-time $50 registration fee, and optional lunches.
The group also decided to have a fundraiser on Nov. 14. Guests will get the chance to take part in a wine tasting, and a silent auction with prizes donated from the community. They would also be given a tour of the nursery school.
“This would be to encourage enrolment this year, and maybe even long term enrolment,” says Ross.
Many parents have also offered to switch from a two or three half-day program to the full five half-day program. The school is already seeing some signs of new enrolment, but there’s still more work to be done.
“It would be a shame to lose a school which still has a role in this community. I know that it’s changing with full day kindergarten and working parents, but I think that all the nursery schools in Ottawa have a role in the community,” adds Kennedy.
More information can be found on the Families of St. Martin’s Facebook event page.