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March 31, 2013

Methuen schools to close day care

METHUEN — The School Department will close a day-care program and disperse a before- and after-school program this summer after deciding required renovations to the building that houses the program are too expensive.

The program is housed at the Pleasant Valley School, a roughly 100-year-old building at 180 Pleasant Valley St., that school officials said needs expensive upgrades. Superintendent Judith Scannell said to the School Committee and in a letter to parents that the day care for 3- and 4-year-olds, which is available five days a week, will end in August and the before- and after-school program for school-age students will move to the four grammar schools.

“We can’t afford it,” Scannell said of the day-care program and repairs. In comments to the School Committee, she said the decision to close the day care program was “based solely on the age and condition of the building.”

This year, Pleasant Valley School has 38 3- and 4-year-olds in the program. Scannell said 26 of those kids will be old enough to start kindergarten next year and will not be affected by the closure. Parents of the remaining dozen kids received a list of private day cares in the city to use next year, and Scannell said the prices are close to what the School Department charges for its service.

Work that would have been required to keep a day care at the Pleasant Valley School included upgrading the electrical and plumbing systems, installation of a sprinkler system, making the building handicap accessible, doing spot repairs on the foundation and scraping and reapplying paint. Last year, the School Department shuttered a 30-year-old mobile classroom trailer that served the building and program because of its condition.

Students in the before- and after-school program can continue in the program, but will remain at their neighborhood grammar school instead of being bused to and from Pleasant Valley School. Scannell said parents had asked for this change in the past. Teachers for the K-8 before- and after-school program will be solicited from each grammar school.

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