Carousel Preschool closing operations

Declining enrollment and lack of teachers forces closure of 31-year provider


FORT MADISON – Another early childhood program in the area is closing its doors.
The Carousel Preschool located and run in conjunction with Union Presbyterian Church announced Wednesday it will be closing its doors after 31 years of providing preschool services to local children.
Director Starr Kistner said there will be a farewell open house at 2 p.m. on Saturday at the preschool 719 Avenue F in Fort Madison, to recognize the efforts of the organization for the past three decades.
The closure is just another hit to the child care services in Lee County with several closures over the past year including the YMCA child care services in Donnellson.
Kistner said enrollment is down at the preschool, which didn’t offer day care services, just preschool for 3- and 4-year-old children.
“We’ve been a preschool and not a daycare service,” Kistner said. “With the (Fort Madison) school district planning expanding PreK programs at the new elementary school, our enrollment is projected to be down again.”
Kistner said church officials had discussed the idea of providing day care services several years ago but decided against it due to the extensive commitments involved in caring for infants and children between infant and three years of age.
The 4-year-old program was offered in the past, but was cut last year when the preschool lost the teacher and couldn’t find a replacement.
She said the Fort Madison district took on the preschool and the YMCA as part of the state voluntary program as a free preschool for residents about nine years ago.
But now with the school opening the program on site, the preschool can’t find any teachers and with the enrollment declining they decided to shutter the program.
She said she has kept up conversations with the area day care professionals to help in any way they can.
The Carousel started in September of 1993 when the Camp Fire Kid’s Castle Day Care closed.
Union Presbyterian Church approved the preschool program as an outreach program and church members have been the administrators. The first church committee was Pat Lodwick, Helen Liddle, Dana Rheinschmidt, Jan Gill and Maxine Herold.
The organization offered preschool for 3- and 4-year-old children. The first teacher was Sandy Hunter. She was followed by Sharon Gerveler, Tiffany Shieffer, Candy Berquam, Kim Anderson, and Starr Kistner. The associates were Karen Martinez, Chris Wilson, Amy Bloomer, Becky Anderson and Brandi Hotop.
Kistner said the preschool feels it has fulfilled their vision by having students start a lifetime of learning patterns, testing social interaction, experimenting with the rewards of sharing, practicing honest choice, and being ready for the challenge of kindergarten.
A farewell open house to recognize the Carousel Preschool and its teachers Starr Kistner and Martha ZSpears is going to be held Saturday from 2 p.m. to 4 p.m. at the Union Presbyterian Church.

Union Presbyterian church, Carousel Preschool, daycare, child care, preschool, closure, news, education, Pen city Current,


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