The University League Nursery School in Princeton will shut its doors after the 2019-20 school year.
The pre-school, which has been a staple in Princeton for 70 years, will close due to declining student enrollment. The decision to close the school after this current year was decided by the board after officials reviewed the enrollment numbers in mid-September.
“We understood that closing after this year was a possibility, but we’re looking for our final enrollment numbers for the school year to guide our decision making,” said Jim Levine, a board member for the University League Nursery School. “This was a really tough decision. For me personally, I have been involved the school since 1996, so this was just a heart wrenching decision.”
The pre-school currently has 66 students enrolled, which is half of what the student population was four years ago in 2015. During the 2015-16 school year, there were about 112 students enrolled, according to officials.
“It was with a very heavy-heart that we let our parents know that after 70 years of educating the town’s and university’s children, ULNS will be closing our doors,” said Catherine Shapiro, president of the ULNS Board. “We are committed to work hand-in-hand with our current families to insure a great final school year and to help those who need it find the best pre-school option for their children next year.”
Though efforts were made to save the school, they came up unsuccessful. School officials looked at a possible re-location, restructuring and other various solution structures. None of the options that were examined proved to be a sustainable model for school.
“We have had enrollment declines for four years. This is not something that happened immediately,” Levine said. “This is something we always thought had the potential to be corrected but never ended up rebounding.”
The pre-school was first started by the spouses of a Princeton University faculty members in 1949 on the campus of Princeton University, according to school officials. Since then, the school has relocated to its current location on 457 Nassau St.
The closing will not just affect the families and students but the 11 teachers and assistant teachers on staff at the pre-school.
“The teachers have always been the bedrock of the school. We are doing everything that we can, including financial and retirement planning assistance, job search assistance and hopefully financial assistance to help with the transition,” Levine said.
Levine said the school throughout the years has meant a high quality of early childhood education for students in the community and provided an environment of community and friends.