OKLAHOMA CITY - Several Oklahoma City parents were outraged Wednesday. They recently found out the preschool their children attend is closing, and they have just days to figure out new arrangements for their kids.
Celebrations Preschool on S.W. 59th Street is scheduled to close September 11.
The school has been around for 40 years. Parents of the kids who attend Celebrations feel there should be something they can do to help keep the doors open.
“My son was on a waiting list for months to get into the child development center, where he was before here, and I took him out to bring him here," said Lindsay Sandoval. "Because, I observed the teachers here years ago, and I was impressed with the program, and I wanted to give my son the best opportunity for his education.”
She just found out last week that Celebrations preschool was shutting down.
“All the sacrifices we took to get our son here and, then, to have it ripped away out of nowhere with no warning at all is unfair," she said. "It’s not right."
The board of directors for the school notified teachers, staff and parents the school would close September 11. The board cited accreditation issues and lack of funding as the main reasons for the shut down.
“The board has been looking at, 'Can we get funding in to get the admin in that we need?' And, it just didn’t happen," said Jessica Harris. "The funding wasn’t there, and the support wasn’t there. I know, for the past two years, we’ve been on shaky ground, and we’ve been unsure.”
Harris has been with the school for 20 years, serving as a teacher and program director.
“Hindsight is 20/20. Maybe looking back, it would have been best to tell the parents we are struggling but, instead, they tried to fix it, which makes sense also,” Harris said.
The school recently hired a new executive director, who is addressing issues the school has been cited for.
“It can be easily rectified and corrected,” said Dr. Ronilda Henson.
If, she said, they get the chance.
“If the government agency would approve our appeal, they are doing a big favor for the children and the community,” Henson said.
While they wait on the appeal, parents like Sandoval are left standing still.
“We can’t get our kids on a waiting list in the time they have given us. Anywhere that we would want to put our kids has a waiting list," Sandoval said. "So, what are we supposed to do? There’s not a good option for us."
She said it’s going to take outside help to make the difference.
“We would love for the community to come together to give us their support," Sandoval said. "Volunteers that are attorneys who have experience working with non-profits to help us go through the paperwork to really give us a fresh start."
Celebrations sent us a statement.
On behalf of the Board of Celebrations Preschool, we are greatly saddened by the imminent closure of our school in this, its 40th year. Celebrations has educated hundreds of fantastic students and provided a much needed service in Oklahoma City. Like many small, non-profit agencies, Celebrations has struggled for several years with financial and administrative stability. Despite the best efforts of our Board, our teachers and staff, and our supporters, we were unable to overcome our reduced star status with the Department of Human Services and the subsequent loss of funding from our primary donor and must close our doors.
We are presently working closely with other agencies, including the Latino Community Development Agency, Sunbeam Family Services, and Santa Fe South Charter School, to place our students in those institutions so that they may receive the quality education they deserve. We are very appreciative of the efforts of these agencies, our teachers and staff, and our parents during this difficult time.