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UPDATED: Little Angels Catholic Preschool to remain open

Guardian Angels Catholic Church has decided that Little Angels Catholic Preschool will remain open for the next year. The decision comes just weeks after the church decided to the close the preschool at the end of this year.

Little Angels Catholic Preschool has gotten its wings back now that a decision has been reached to keep the school open - for at least the next year.

"First of all, we're ecstatic," Little Angels Director Sue Dwuznik said. "We are thrilled that we're back.

"We love what we do - we love being Little Angels."

The decision was made by the Guardian Angels Catholic Church parish council, finance council, Father Roger Bauman and Little Angels parents Saturday during a meeting at the church.

Guardian Angels' website lists the church's official statement as: "Guardian Angels Catholic Church is pleased to announce that the Little Angels Preschool will be open for the 2012 - 2013 school year beginning in September. After engaging in several days of discussions, the administration and the parents agreed on forming a committee made up of existing parents, alumni parents and church officials to formulate a plan going forward."

The church's parish administrator, Denny Farrell, declined to comment any further on the decision, citing the statement as the only comment the church will be giving for now.

Late last month Little Angels parents and staff were notified that the Oakdale preschool would close at the end of this year.

In a letter sent to Little Angels parents and Guardian Angels parishioners, Father Rodger Bauman wrote that the parish council and the finance council made the decision to close the school after several months of discussions.

In his letter, Bauman cited declining enrollment numbers and financial reasons for the decision.

When the preschool first opened 15 years ago enrollment was nearly 140 children, according to Bauman's letter. Enrollment has dropped to 89.

Costs and declining participation from Guardian Angels Church members were among the reasons for the initial decision.

Immediately after the announcement was made, Little Angels parents, staff and church parishioners rallied together to fight the decision.

Over the last three weeks, parents have held numerous meetings with church officials to discuss the decision and options to keep the school open.

Keeping the school open

During Saturday's meeting, Dwuznik said church officials did acknowledge the outpouring of support from parents that Little Angels has received in recent weeks as a reason for the decision.

"They did admit that thanks to the passion and the energy and the enthusiasm that was brought on whole heartedly on behalf of the parents, it was decided that this was indeed a ministry that needs to be recognized and valued by the church," she said. "By holding that up they helped everyone to recognize that this truly is something that Guardian Angels should embrace."

Dwuznik also said that some of the information previously cited as reasons to close the preschool, was deemed inaccurate.

"Some of that misinformation wasn't accurate enough to close the preschool," she said.

Moving forward

Little Angels' future is still uncertain. For now, the preschool will only remain open for one year under current plans.

However, the preschool and the church will continue to have discussions about how to move forward.

"We're all going to be working together for the good of the parish," Dwuznik said.

Dwuznik said she intends to increase communication with the church through monthly meetings.

"We want to keep it moving forward in a way that is good and that will benefit everybody," she said. "I think this is a step in the right direction."

Dwuznik said she is excited to move forward with Little Angels.

"History has always shown that when there is a crisis and whenever there are a lot of emotions, you get an outpouring of support," she said. "This banding together, this community involvement, this camaraderie, has definitely strengthened us and brought us together.

"Hopefully moving forward we will gain some momentum from that."

Amber Kispert-Smith

Amber Kispert-Smith has been the schools and Afton reporter at the Woodbury Bulletin since 2008. She holds a bachelor’s degree in journalism from the University of Minnesota. She previously worked as a reporter for Press Publications in White Bear Lake.

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