Montessori preschool to close

Published 5:15 pm Saturday, December 10, 2011

The Montessori Children’s House has announced it will no longer offer classes following the preschool’s winter break.

It was announced Friday that operations of the school will close on Dec. 31. The board of directors voted to close the school and disperse assets at its last board meeting Tuesday.

“Unfortunately, we couldn’t overcome our late start this fall,” said Director Stephanie Passingham. “We needed a certain amount of students to make it financially stable.”

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She also said enrollment was not at a level to sustain the school’s operations. They are currently serving four children; at their peak they were serving about 45 children. It also said current families were supportive of the school.

“I appreciate the board’s willingness to allow us to give it one more shot,” Passingham said. “They have been struggling with this issue for some time.”

Last spring the school’s board of directors considered closing the school, but decided to restructure the school’s program and appointed a new director in the fall. Passingham was hired and a new lead guide was appointed. At that time the school’s officials said it was a variety of “unusual circumstances” that almost closed the school.

“We appreciate the support that has been given to the school, particularly by the Ehrhardt family,” Passingham said. “It is my hope some day it will be feasible to once again offer Montessori education in our community.”

She said any group of parents or people could get together to start a new Montessori school and that she’d love to see that happen. Families were notified this week, and Passingham said she discussed other preschool options with a number of parents.

“Many are familiar with other options, and we’re grateful they chose Montessori,” Passingham said.

The Montessori Children’s House, at 1424 W. Main St. in Albert Lea, was founded in 1993 with six children and currently serves children between 2 1/2 and 6 years old. At the Montessori Children’s House, children follow their own developmental timetable physically, cognitively, socially and emotionally. The school supported that development by offering a hands-on learning environment, a multi-age classroom and parent education.