MaryAnn Grim: Tale of two colleges, and two preschools

Last modified: Tuesday, June 18, 2013

To the editor:

Recently the Gazette and Amherst Bulletin published stories regarding two pre-eminent area preschools and two elite local colleges — Little Red Schoolhouse, located on the Amherst College campus, and Sunnyside Child Care Center, on the Smith College campus. Both preschools are being forced to move because of impending construction on their respective campus.

What interested me is how the two colleges responded to the needs of the preschools on their campuses. The Board of Directors and staff of Little Red worked very hard over the last two years to develop a proposal to expand their schedule to a full-day program to meet the expressed needs of Amherst College for a full-day preschool.

During that time the board and staff looked diligently for a place to re-locate but they were unsuccessful in their efforts. The board asked Amherst College for help in locating a new place and the college declined.

Little Red presented its final proposal for a preschool schedule that met the college’s needs, but because they were unable to find a location for the program, Amherst College turned down the proposal and Little Red was forced to close.

Across the river, at Smith, Sunnyside saw its building demolished to make way for planned expansion at the college. Sunnyside looked diligently for a new location and was fortunate enough to find a place that it could renovate and move to. Smith helped them by donating $150,000 to assist with the purchase of the new building. Sunnyside will continue to operate as a preschool serving the needs of Smith College and the broader Northampton community.

The differences in the way the two colleges responded to the needs of preschools forced to move due to expansion plans by the colleges is stunning. I have no knowledge of what motivated the colleges to respond in the ways they did. The only conclusion I can draw from these events is that Smith College clearly knows the value of a quality preschool to both the college and the broader community and Amherst College does not.

MaryAnn Grim



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