Country Day School of Baton Rouge ending elementary grades, but to place more focus on pre-schools _lowres

Photo provided by GoogleMaps -- Country Day School of Baton Rouge is ending its elementary grades in two weeks, but will give more focus to its pre-school classes.

After nearly three decades in operation, a small private elementary school in Mid City is shutting down in two weeks and plans to redirect its efforts strictly to its growing set of preschools.

Country Day School of Baton Rouge alerted parents of the closure late Wednesday. Forty-eight elementary school children will have to find new schools; another seven students, in fifth grade, the highest grade, are graduating to middle school elsewhere.

Director Carla Schild said the closure is one of the toughest decisions she’s ever made, noting that students of hers from years ago are now sending their children to Country Day. She said the decision was prompted not so much by economics but by other factors. These include an illness of one of her administrators and mixed feelings about Common Core educational standards the school has adopted, but also how some parents have changed for the worse in recent years.

“I have parents who want to assign responsibility for things to the school that should be their responsibility,” Schild said.

She said representatives of other private schools have been in touch with some of the parents shopping for new schools.

Country Day, founded in 1982, started as a preschool but added elementary grades a few years later. Schild said she founded the school with her now deceased mother, Elizabeth Kerr. Country Day now operates four preschools located across Baton Rouge.

In addition to the elementary school, the original campus at 4455 North Blvd. has about 175 preschoolers as young as 4 months old. Schild said that campus will draw on its waiting list to add 12 to 14 new preschoolers next year.

Five of the children at Country Day have their tuition paid via publicly financed vouchers. Schild said that after some initial adjustment, the voucher children did well.

“They are some of the most rewarding families I’ve worked with,” she said.

Schild said she worked with many wonderful children through the years.

“I’m really hoping that the school made a difference,” she said.

Follow Charles Lussier on Twitter, @Charles_Lussier.