Megan Blakeslee's toddlers chanted "save the preschool" from their car seats after ABC11 interviewed their mom. Blakeslee and the other parents found out last month the Taylor Family YMCA's half-day preschool program at Lifepointe Church in Cary is shutting down at the end of the school year.
It's a program that's universally loved by parents with its field trips, swimming classes and the early development that experts insist is vital to children's future success.
"The families are all very friendly with each other. The teachers are like family," Blakeslee said. "And we were blindsided by this completely. We had no idea that the enrollment was struggling in such a bad way."
YMCA of the Triangle told ABC11 that 38 children are currently enrolled in the preschool and 23 of them will age out at the end of the school year.
These Wake County parents say they were both “blindsided” by the impending closure of their kids’ low-cost pre-k program in Cary. They’ve launched a petition to save it, and raising awareness about the unaffordability of pre-school ed. #abc11 pic.twitter.com/3pbZPVkMo4— Joel Brown (@JoelBrownABC11) February 28, 2019
Jerry Meyer, a Cary father of two young daughters, said the affordability of the Y's program is unmatched. "It's about $3,500 a year," he said. "That's very good."
Meyer's 8-year-old daughter is a graduate. His 5-year-old graduates in May. He thinks if more people knew they could find a quality pre-K program for $3,500 a year they would come running.
"I think the YMCA is making a big mistake by closing the program and if they were to more effectively market the program it would thrive," Meyer said.
Blakeslee added, "I'm very familiar with the prices around the area and this is such a great, great value for the quality."
Meyer and Blakeslee both signed on to a Change.org petition to save the preschool.
But, there's nothing to suggest the YMCA plans to change its mind.
In a statement to ABC11, YMCA of the Triangle said, "It has been our joy and honor to care for the children at the Taylor Family Preschool. Unfortunately, we have seen a significant decline in enrollment in recent years that makes it impossible to sustain the program beyond May 31..Our commitment to supporting children and families remains stronger than ever."
The YMCA said parents were notified in January of the impending closure to give families enough time to make decisions about next year.
But, these parents aren't giving up hope they'll be able to save the program they already have.
"If the general community and especially the Triangle YMCA members knew more about it, there would be more people enrolling in the program," Meyer said. "That's a fact."
Church leaders at Lifepointe told ABC11 their partnership with the YMCA has been great and they regret to see them go. They said they are exploring the possibility of opening a preschool of their own to serve the communities.