Preschool to shut after 42 years

A PRESCHOOL is set to close its doors after running out of children.

East Huntspill Preschool, which opened in 1969, will close in May after failing to secure large enough grants to cover maintenance and costs for the next school year.

And with only three youngsters due to remain at the preschool in September after all the others leave to go to primary school, the cost of keeping the required two staff members on has proven to be too much to bear without extra grants.

The decision to close the preschool was taken at an extraordinary meeting of the parents committee on April 6, where it was decided that it would close on May 22.

Although Somerset County Council had advised the committee to close on April 8, it was deemed too short a notice to give to the three members of staff currently employed.

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School administrator Sara Puddy said the pre-school had been running at a loss for several years, but had previously been able to operate due to large grants from organisations such as Grassroots Grants or the Somerset Community Association.

But she said the current financial climate had made it impossible to secure a grant for the forthcoming school year, coupled with the costs of running it to look after only three children would have made it impossible to keep it open.

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The decision to close on May 22 was made as it would give members of staff enough notice, while saving on the costs of running the school by not staying open until the end of the school year, with the money saved being used towards a redundancy package for staff.

She said: “It’s obviously very regrettable, we don’t want to close but we’ve simply run out of children.

“There are a few housing developments in the village, and we had hoped that children from families moving into them might be able to attend, but we ran out of time.

“I tried to secure us another grant like we have had in past years, but with the economic situation at the moment they’re just not available now.”

Angela Fey, a mother whose three-year-old son Josh attends the preschool and whose other three children have all been taught there in recent years, said: “I was very upset, they’ve done such a brilliant job with my children, so to hear they were closing just like that was quite devastating.

“I think it’s another blow on the head for the village, and it’s not because there aren’t children, it’s just that their parents choose to take them elsewhere. If people had supported the school then we wouldn’t have lost the facility.”

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