ARHS Preschool cut mourned

Johanne Hedemann directed the ARHS preschool.Photo: Lee Larcheveque

Due to a 1.1 million dollar budget to the district, a much-loved Preschool Program will be cut.

“It was not an easy call,” Principal Mark Jackson said of the decision. “People love the Preschool, people love Foods. None of these decisions were made casually. And at the same time we needed to cut over a million dollars from the budget. There’s not really a lot left to go [before cutting into academic programs].”

After 12 years of working in the ARHS Preschool, head teacher Johanne Hedemann will have to look for another job for the upcoming school year.  

“I could be at another school teaching second graders, which is quite a change from the past 12 years,” she said. “Finding another job will be challenging.”

The Preschool Program has been praised by local parents who bring their young ones there for care and by the high schoolers who have interned there over the years.

According to its web site, the Preschool at ARHS offers “a comprehensive early childhood program with developmentally appropriate curriculum including literacy, math, art, science and drama activities. Early literacy is an important component of our program.”

Annual tuition is $9,000 per child and is pro-rated for part-time enrollment. Children may be enrolled for three, four, or five full days, and the program has been “committed to building a diverse and gender-balanced program.”

Families that have been bringing their children to the preschool for years “will have to seek alternate care for their child,” Ms. Hedemann said. “This one is really affordable compared to some of the other ones in the area.”

The Preschool Program also offers student interns an opportunity to learn about Early Childhood Education.  

“I love it; it makes my day so much better,” said Willa Hartl, who volunteers there every F period. “I’m happy when I’m here, very happy.”

The highlights of her time in the program involve eating lunch with the kids and reading them stories before their nap time. “I like that [being in the Preschool Program means] getting away from the high school [for some time during the day]. Being with little kids lightens the mood,” said Hartl.  “It’s a nice break from the stress of school in general.”

Once a program like this is cut, it’s likely for good. “I think the saddest part of all this is how long the program has been here for. I’m worried it won’t ever make its way back into the high school,” Ms. Hedemann said.