Parents, teachers upset over sudden closing of Farragut school

Parents, teachers upset over sudden closing of Farragut preschool

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The Faith Early Learning Center is part of the Faith Lutheran Church. It started as an outreach ministry back in 1986. The church council says that because of financial reasons they cannot continue to operate the preschool. The Faith Early Learning Center is part of the Faith Lutheran Church. It started as an outreach ministry back in 1986. The church council says that because of financial reasons they cannot continue to operate the preschool.
"The bomb was dropped on us with no warning whatsoever before a long weekend with no chance to dispute or come up with other solutions or ways to keep the school open," explained Bennett Lopez. "The bomb was dropped on us with no warning whatsoever before a long weekend with no chance to dispute or come up with other solutions or ways to keep the school open," explained Bennett Lopez.
Two-year-olds Dax and Addison are just two of the children that attend the FELC, but soon the doors of the preschool will be closing for good. Two-year-olds Dax and Addison are just two of the children that attend the FELC, but soon the doors of the preschool will be closing for good.

By ALEXIS ZOTOS
6 News Reporter

WASHINGTON, D.C. (WATE) - Parents and teachers of a West Knox County preschool are outraged after a sudden announcement that the school will close.

They reached out to 6 News after learning on Wednesday that the Faith Early Learning Center in Farragut would be closing at the end of May.

The Faith Early Learning Center is part of the Faith Lutheran Church. It started as an outreach ministry back in 1986. The church council says that because of financial reasons they cannot continue to operate the preschool.

Two-year-olds Dax and Addison are just two of the children that attend the FELC, but soon the doors of the preschool will be closing for good.

Susan Bennett Lopez, Dax's mom, gathered parents together Friday morning to talk about the news.

"The bomb was dropped on us with no warning whatsoever before a long weekend with no chance to dispute or come up with other solutions or ways to keep the school open," explained Bennett Lopez.

Teachers and parents learned Wednesday night that the preschool would be closing during the church council meeting

"We walked into the meeting, we were given a piece of paper and a council member or the president said, we're closing the school at the end of May, no discussion," said teacher Marlena Engstrom.

Engstrom has been teaching at FELC for eight years.

6 News obtained a copy of the letter addressed to parents and staff from Council President Samuel Howard.

In part it says, "In the 2013 calendar year, Faith Early learning center had an operating loss of ($134,337). In the 1st quarter 2014 we have accrued an operating loss of ($31,302). We are not in a financial position to continue to operate and support Faith Early Learning Center with these kinds of losses.

Parents are asking why they weren't given more noticed that the school was in trouble.

"Why haven't we been given the opportunity, why haven't they asked us, can we raise tuition, can you help us raise funds? Do you have a way to donate money, why have we just been told you're out?" said Bennett Lopez.

The letter also goes on to say, "There is significant competition from private schools, and the expanded public school day for kindergarten students to a full day, which has made it impossible for us to operate the school in a fiscally responsible way."

This year there are 96 students, down from 109 in 2010 according to the letter. Now staff and parents are wondering what they'll do with just a month left of the school year.

"It's not about the money for me, it's about the families," said Engstrom who will now be out of a job.

According to the school's website, registration is underway for summer and the fall.

Parents now worry where they'll take their children.

"Most of the schools already have waiting lists, and this isn't a day care, we're not trying to put our kids in a day care," said Bennett Lopez. "I don't know if there's anything that will ever match this, this is the best place. We did our homework to bring our son here."

6News reached out to Council President Samual Howard and Pastor Bob Stelter but they did not return our calls and emails.

The parents and teachers of Faith Early Learning Center say they are looking for any assistance. If you want to help you can email faithelc@tds.net.

The Faith Lutheran Church Council has scheduled a town hall meeting for the congregation on April 28th at 6:00pm.

 

 

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