Feel free to sign this letter if you are a supporter of Highlands Nursery School in Melrose, MA. We would like this letter read to the church membership during their next meeting in early January, 2014. Not sure if for any other reason than making them aware of how we feel... Then we can begin the dialogue with regards to next steps.

Thanks for reading and supporting!!  And please feel free to forward along.


December 19, 2013

Dear Melrose Highland Congregational Church Membership,

I am one of the parents whose child attends HNS.  I was very saddened to get your letter last week with regards to the closing of HNS. I regret to hear that your financial situation has likely forced your hand with regards to this matter. 
Balancing a budget is no easy task in today’s economic environment and it’s something that we all struggle with, from households, to schools, to cities and corporates, as well as our federal government!

I need to commend you on making HNS your mission since 1969. The school has been a gem in our community and has served its people well.  You’ve done well in supporting HNS for so long. Maybe you don’t even realize how great a deed it was…  And what a gift it was…  HNS is a school that is warm and an extension of family.  Our kids have gotten to come in and be with the same teacher all day and all year. They have gotten to be with the same children every day.  My son can rattle off the names of each child in his class. When I drop him off, he runs into school eager to see his teacher and friends.  When he gets home at night, he tells me if one of his classmates was sick and not there because he felt their absence and missed them.

The kids that come to HNS leave with a love of school and a desire to learn. I can’t think of better seeds to sow in young minds and hearts.  And you supported all that and helped keep it alive. I don’t know if you fully understand or appreciate the magic that has been taking place right beneath your feet…

As we sit here today and absorb the news, I need to ask you if you considered a few things before reaching your decision.

1) Did you consider trying to find another set of owners who could take over the school? In essence, passing the torch? Perhaps a set of parents would want to own the school and be a board of advisors to the school.

2) Did you consider giving the school a chance to bridge the gap and pay a higher rent by increasing the income generated from the space? (Like income from early drop off, or afternoon art classes, music classes, or birthday party rentals on the weekends, or family movie nights). Perhaps we could have reached an agreement to do a stepped approach to reaching
your desired rent over a couple of years…

3) Did you consider that your space could remain empty for years generating absolutely no income?

4) Did your RE broker give you a sense of how long it could realistically take to lease?

5) Did you get a second opinion to confirm that your desired rent is realistic in this market and not smoke and mirrors?

6) Did you get an estimate of how much it will cost you in time and money to bring your space to code or make any necessary updates?

7) Did you call Chime Time Nursery school to ask them about their economics and how they have been able to make things work for over 50 years? They now offer full day programs.

8) Did you consider the timing of your announcement? You do need to be made aware that the timing of your announcement
has jeopardized any chances of HNS staying open next year, even if they wanted to move and even if we could solve the ownership issue.  Enrollment for next year begins in a couple of weeks. Your timing is hugely unfortunate. While we can accept that we have to close a location and that you want to divest from this school, it’s harder to swallow that your timing not only shuts down the location, but risks shutting down the entire institution.

9) Lastly, did you consider the utter heartbreak you’ve caused the teachers and staff, alumni, parents and community members, in Melrose, Wakefield and surrounding towns? I attended the meeting we had to talk through a few things, and the tears shed over the closing truly conveyed that above all, many people are mourning a tremendous loss.

If you have considered all these factors, then you have done a great job in fulfilling your mission. If you skimped or skipped over considering any or all of these things, your decision could be at a great disadvantage to your bottom line and not to mention your reputation, long term. And it definitely is at a disadvantage to the children of Melrose and surrounding communities.

Today, while I respect your economic realities, I can’t help but feel that not enough effort was put in to trying to pass the torch; instead it feels it was hastily blown out.

I hope the communities can rally and I hope the HNS torch can shine once again, if not here and now, then in another place and another time.


Lori Connor & all signatories