News From Terre Haute, Indiana

Local & Bistate

March 12, 2014

Sisters of Providence to close Woods Day Care/Pre-School in June

ST. MARY-OF-THE-WOODS — Citing a growing number of concerns, the Sisters of Providence said in a press release issued Wednesday that they would close Woods Day Care/Pre-School, which has been a sponsored institution for nearly three decades.

The closing will coincide with the final day of the 2013-14 calendar school year for the Vigo County School Corp., scheduled for June 6.

“After careful consideration of financial and enrollment realities, the General Council of the Sisters of Providence has decided to close what has become an outstanding child development center in the Wabash Valley,” Sisters of Providence General Superior Denise Wilkinson said. “A number of factors entered into this decision.”

She said the sisters received an estate gift in 2009, and WDC/PS has used some of the money each year since to offset the shortfall of operating income. The fund, she said, will be depleted at the conclusion of the school year. In addition, the Sisters of Providence are not in a position to provide supplemental funding.

Wilkinson added that recent marketing efforts to increase enrollment were unsuccessful, and the economic downturn in recent years “negatively impacted the financial picture.”

She said the continued rising costs of operating the day care also factored into the decision.

“While the current tuition is comparable with similar facilities in the area, it cannot be increased substantially without a further negative impact on enrollment,” she said.

WDC/PS opened in September 1987, following a year of planning between the leadership of the Sisters of Providence in Sacred Heart Province and Saint Mary-of-the-Woods College.

Woods Day Care was originally located in the Mary Fendrich Hulman Hall for Arts and Sciences. SMWC provided several rooms in the northeast corner of the lower floor for classroom and office space.

The first director for the facility was Sister Ann Brendan Burget, who brought more than 40 years of experience in early childhood education to the venture and led the ministry until June 2005. Currently, the director is Sister Judith Cervizzi, who has comparable experience in child development and early childhood education.

After an extensive capital campaign during a 10-year period, WDC/PS moved to a new facility in May 2002, which expanded classroom space and made available larger areas for activities, including a spacious atrium - which includes many play zones for children.

In its first year, WDC/PS enrolled 19 children. Enrollment steadily increased, reaching a peak of 92 children in 2008. Currently, the enrollment is 77 children.

“Woods Day Care has provided a nurturing, caring and safe environment for children whose parent(s) work,” the Sisters said in the press release, “while also offering parent education and involvement through newsletters, committees, conferences, fundraisers and more.”

In September 2004, Woods Day Care received accreditation from the National Association for the Education of Young Children, becoming one of only four centers in the Wabash Valley to earn the honor. The national accreditation has been maintained ever since.

“Woods Day Care would not be what it has become without the trust, support and dedication of the parents, staff, benefactors and others who believed in it,” Wilkinson said. “This decision to close the Woods Day Care was not made lightly. However, all efforts toward remaining open have been exhausted.”

“Words cannot express our appreciation for parents entrusting us in the care of their children to us,” Cervizzi added.

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