Williamston Planning Pre-K School Changes

By: Tony Tagliavia
By: Tony Tagliavia

The Williamston Community Schools district is getting out of the business child care for those younger than four years old.

The district has arranged with a local catholic school to provide those services for the community. Some parents say the new accomodations aren't an acceptible substitute.

Parents say the child care services available for a fee in Williamston are among the best around. Mary Brennan says she searched far and wide before settling on Williamston for child care.

"in Grand Ledge, DeWitt, Holt, Mason ... (and) cities I've never heard of," Brennan said.

And Brennan was happy with what she eventually found in Williamston.

"I knew this was the place," Brennan said.

But the Williamston superintendent says a couple of changes mean the district can't provide some of the child care services they have been.

"The youngest of the youngsters ... the infant care and 3 year olds. We will no longer have services in that regard," superintendent Joel Raddatz said.

The reason?

District administrators say asbestos removal will mean the school's summer programs can't happen at the elementary school -- so they went to St. Mary's Catholic School across town. St. Mary's agreed to take over the summer program.

But the other change happening at Williamston might be a little more permanent. Leaders are planning to remodel part of the building. Those plans would leave the school with three fewer classrooms, and no space for the district's programs for those younger than four.

"Services would still be provdied locally...in this case by a local church. But the vast majority, 83 percent of the kids, will be back this fall," Raddatz said.

Parent Dawn Hull says she's happy the district tried to provide an option, but she has concerns.

"Not having a public setting, Not knowing if the program will be the same," Hull said.

And, like most parents who voiced their opinions at the school board meeting, Hull says the district's child care program is too unique to risk losing.

"I really hate to see it leave the district as a whole. Just a wonderful community service," Hull said.

The plan is effectively in place now.

But one school administrator tells us parent pressure could force the school board to make a change.

-- in Williamston, Tony Tagliavia, News 10.

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