PORT DEPOSIT — Citing falling enrollment, Pleasant View Baptist Church announced that it is closing its preschool daycare effective Oct. 4.
The Rev. Harold Phillips, senior pastor of the church at 150 Downin Lane near Port Deposit, said it was a hard decision to close the school after more than 40 years in business.
“We just didn’t have the enrollment,” Phillips said.
With only 33 children and a staff of 12, Phillips said the cost to run the preschool was eating into the church finances.
“It always cost our church to do it,” he said.
While the congregation considered it a ministry, he said the school was past the point where it could break even. While the church is not required to follow state education requirements, there are other regulations that added to the cost.
“It’s costing us $2,000 a week to stay open,” he said. “We never made any money doing it.”
Phillips said that as other programs opened and Cecil County Public School began offering pre-K classes, enrollment at Pleasant View dropped from as many as 80 children to the current 33. He indicated that 50 children were needed to stay open.
Pleasant View closed its Lighthouse Christian Academy — a school for kindergarten through high school — five years ago for much the same reason.
That does not mean that the church is losing its younger population though. Quite the opposite in fact, according to the pastor.
“We have 100 kids here for Awana every Wednesday night,” he said of the Sunday school style program with lessons, music and activities.
When the programs for middle and high school students and nursery programs are counted, Phillips said there are nearly 200 young people there every Wednesday.
Meanwhile, construction is moving along swiftly on a new 26,000-square-foot community center being built with youngsters and families in mind. It’s a three-phase plan. Phase 1 is the sanctuary and Sunday School wing, while Phase 2 adds a youth building and kitchen. This final phase will add a gymnasium and the Zoe Family Life Center.
The project remains on track to open the center in December, Phillips said.