Brentwood parents scramble for options after YMCA Preschool announces May closure

Local News

BRENTWOOD, Tenn. (WKRN) — Families in communities across Middle Tennessee continue to struggle with finding affordable and safe childcare.

Now, some Brentwood parents find themselves in the middle of the problem.

In an email sent on January 16, the YMCA of Middle Tennessee announced their Brentwood YMCA Preschool would be closing its operation on May 21. The closure coincides with the last day of school for Williamson County Schools.

In the email, the YMCA said, “As the church forges ahead with an inspiring vision for growth, a renewal of our lease is no longer an option.”

Since the announcement parents have created a petition and spoken out about their rush to find new childcare,

“Everybody’s booked up and we’re all flooding the market right now trying to find something, and we’re all in the same boat.” said Cole Melcher

Melcher’s son has attended the Brentwood YMCA preschool for a litte over two years.

The Brentwood YMCA Preschool has been housed at the Church of the Good Shepard for nearly twenty years according to Jessica P. Fain, YMCA of Middle Tennessee chief strategy officer.

Fain told News 2 that all YMCA Preschools and teachers are licensed by the state.

The YMCA said teachers impacted by the closure would be given the chance to pursue other childcare opportunities within the YMCA – and be given priority.

Both the Church and the YMCA sent statements to News 2.

The Church of the Good Shepard Statement

After twenty years of fulfilling joint ministry, the Church of the Good Shepherd will no longer be leasing space to the YMCA Preschool program on our campus. In the course of our routine review of the lease, which concluded its five year term in August of 2020, it became clear that the parish’s needs for space and expansion into new ministries meant we could not renew the lease for another five years. It has been wonderful to have the voices of young children filling our classrooms and hallway for the last twenty years and we have been delighted to support the YMCA preschool program in its service to the community. It is a partnership of which we are very proud. We appreciate all the good that partnership has brought to the community. However, the needs of the parish for space to accommodate parish programs, continued growth, and our needs to make our “home base” more suitable for the mission of the parish must be the first priority of the leadership of Church of the Good Shepherd.

When the preschool came to Good Shepherd, the parish and school were much smaller. Over the years, both have grown to the point that our mutual ministry was becoming increasingly difficult. The preschool needs space for students and storage that simply does not exist in our current building. The church needs room to grow its various ministries. While we have had a great partnership, the needs of both communities have brought us to this necessary decision.

With regard to the rumors of a “dispute” between the YMCA and the parish, there simply is no dispute. As we have noted, we value the good our relationship has brought to the community. It is understandable that members of the school community are upset by this disruption and there is certainly a considerable amount of speculation going on among members of the community about the reasons for it. However, there is no animosity in the relationship, and this very difficult decision was not made as a means of addressing a lack of concord. Church of the Good Shepherd simply has need of its space currently leased to the preschool. It was our belief that with this advance notice the program could be relocated and continue to provide services to the parent and the community. It was not our intent nor our decision to end the preschool’s operation. We deeply regret any disruption and anxiety our decision has caused within the school community.

The Rev’d Natalie Van Kirk, Rector

Mr. Chris Olson, Senior Warden

YMCA Statement

Just over a week ago, our longtime partners at the Church of the Good Shepard made us aware of their Vestry’s decision not to renew the lease for our preschool when it expires later this year.
In the interest of giving our parents as much notice as possible, and respecting the church’s timeline for communicating their decision more broadly to their congregation, we acted quickly to notify parents that our last day of operation will be May 21, 2020, coinciding with the end of Williamson County Schools. We are grateful for the partnership we’ve enjoyed with the church for nearly 20 years, and we wish them all the best as they work to grow their impact in their congregation and the community.
Given the treasured relationship our staff have with our preschool children and their parents, we are not at all surprised to see a petition being circulated to save the school, and we are humbled by the outpouring of support they’ve shown. However, given the favorable arrangement we had with the church and the timing of their decision not to renew the lease, we do not currently have a viable alternative to ceasing operations.

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