The Carlisle Mosquito Online

Friday, June 9, 2000


Due to church construction, Noah's Ark to suspend program for a year

Noah's Ark Nursery School will suspend operation of its preschool program due to the upcoming construction project at the Carlisle Congregational Church. The preschool will temporarily close when the school year ends in June and will not operate in Carlisle for the 2000-2001 school year.

Director and owner Diane Melanson said the preschool was notified earlier this year that the church sanctuary expansion project would also involve the entire building, as the facility is updated and brought up to current building codes. The school, which leases space in the church on School Street and has been in town since 1980, is hopeful the construction project will not take longer than a year. Melanson said Noah's Ark hopes to return to its current space in the lower level of the church in September of 2001, if construction is completed by then.

No alternative sites available

Melanson said the school looked for an alternative location in Carlisle but was unable to find one. Preschool and child care programs are governed by the state Office for Child Care Services which has specific requirements for playground space, lead-paint testing and other restrictions. Those requirements eliminated any possible temporary location.

In November, parents of Noah's Ark students were notified by letter that the renovations would have an impact on the program. They were reminded again in January when the church told the school that it would not be able to stay on site. The preschool was notified of the move by building inspector Bob Koning, who cited safety concerns. Other groups who use the building will also have to relocate during construction.

All of the children in the preschool for 3- to 5-year-olds have found placements in other programs, such as the Red Balloon, the Integrated Preschool at the Carlisle School or preschools in Concord.

Melanson recently opened Noah's Ark Two in Westford, an all-day child care facility which also runs a preschool program for children. Three teachers work at the Westford facility and the teachers who work in Carlisle will transfer to the Westford center in June.

Congregational Church spokesman Kirk Ware said construction will begin in late summer or around the beginning of September and is projected to take one year to complete. Ware said the church tried everything to keep the preschool in place but was unable to do so because of safety issues with the heavy equipment on site. He said the church plans to have Noah's Ark return once construction is finished, with additional storage space as a result of the project.

Church services will also need to move once work begins in the sanctuary. Ware said the church has spoken with the Carlisle School about possible arrangements to use the school auditorium for Sunday services during construction.

2000 The Carlisle Mosquito