After 65 years serving the community, Los Altos Parent Preschool will close its doors permanently this spring.
Ultimately, a “perfect storm of factors” came together to force the longtime local institution to shutter, co-director Kerry Moore said.
“It’s a complicated thing,” she added. “It isn’t just one factor.”
One problem was that the school previously received money from the state that was lost in the aftermath of the 2008 recession.
“That was one huge impact,” Moore said. “We had never been structured for the school to survive on tuition alone.”
LAPP used to be housed on the grounds of Los Altos High School, with rent subsidized by the Mountain View Los Altos Union High School District. However, in 2011 the district repurposed the portable building the preschool had been using for high school classes.
The preschool relocated to a site next to Covington School, on land owned by the Los Altos School District.
“It’s a wonderful site, but understandably the district needs to make income off of that and so our rent goes up every single year,” Moore said.
The cost of moving to the new site also depleted some of LAPP’s reserves.
Moore said she holds no ill will toward either school district, noting that it isn’t their fault LAPP finds itself in its present predicament.
LAPP’s imminent closure also ties into broader issues regionally. According to Moore, as housing costs have spiked locally, fewer families can afford to have a parent stay home and participate in a parent preschool program.
“It’s a lot of sad factors, and it ties into a lot of the changes that we’re seeing in Mountain View and Los Altos as a whole,” she said.
The school’s model is based on the idea that parents are directly involved in their children’s education and volunteer in the classroom.
The sense of community that forms is one of the things Mansi Tripathi will miss most about LAPP. Tripathi’s daughter, Mira, has been at the school for three years and will enter kindergarten in the fall.
When Mira started at LAPP, she had severe allergies and her mother was afraid to let her spend time in public spaces. That left Tripathi feeling secluded and lacking a sense of community.
At LAPP, she found a group of parents who embraced her daughter’s unique needs and supported Tripathi.
“For me, that was the main thing – to feel welcome, to feel supported, to have a parent community that would not only nurture her, but support me as a mom,” Tripathi said.
Helping parents to feel supported and empowered was one of the main goals of LAPP, Moore said.
“Instead of feeling alone and worried and that you might not be doing it right, you have so much support,” she said.
For Carole Wunderlich, whose daughter Megan attended LAPP in the early 2000s, the school bolstered her confidence and gave her a group of parents to lean on for support.
“I chose the school because I thought it would be a good place for Meg,” Wunderlich said, “but it turned out that really I think I got more out of it than she did.”