The wheels for the preschool started to turn in the spring of 1964. There were certain needs in the community and Church. First of all, there had been members asking about the possibility of a preschool; there were a few schools in the area. Then, too, the Church was considering the possibility of a private kindergarten, since the Oak Hills School District at that time did not offer kindergarten and a number of churches were sponsoring them.
Through a survey done by a committee from the Commission on Education, it was determined there was enough interest to plan on setting up a school. The study of this committee had also done research concerning the type of school, which was to be religious-centered. The idea for the school was presented to the Board of Trustees and was approved.
The Minister of Education, Rev. Donald Bible, was eager to receive the news of the Preschool Council and literature concerning Preschool Education. He made inquiries through the Board of Education, the Cincinnati Health Department, and other schools in the area. The preschool was set up on a three day week basis: Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday.
Enrollment was taken on a form printed in the weekly church publication which was sent to homes. A $10 deposit was required with registration. There was also an article in the local newspaper and, of course, the publicity by word of mouth. The proposed kindergarten was dropped because the people from the Oak Hills area did not wish to drive that far. The plan for the preschool was then for two classes; one for 10 three-year olds and the other for 14 four-year olds.
The tuition was set in accordance with other area church preschools; $60 a semester for church members and $65 for others, figuring $120/child for the year. The budget turned out to be unrealistic for the preschool, however, because of the help it received. The church waived all charges of custodial expense, utilities and administrative cost for us. The Sunday School was willing to share expense in the purchase of much of the equipment. So, with the aid received, the preschool was able to purchase more new equipment and a fence for the outdoor area.
The operation of the preschool is through the Preschool Board. This was formed at the time the preschool began and its members were the Minister of Education, Ex-officio Church School Superintendent, counseling teacher from the Preschool Division, a member from the Board fo Trustees and four parents, plus the nurse. Today, the preschool board consists of a president, preschool director, teacher liaison, member from the Board of Trustees, member from the Paish/Staff Board, Parent’s Club President an parents.
Probably the biggest headache the preschool had in its formation was to obtain the license required by the Cincinnati Board of Health. According to Regulation 20, the location of the Church did not comply with the zoning ordinances and because of this, the preschool had to go through a great deal of red tape.
The first year the preschool opened with two unfilled classes. By the fourth year, three classes, all filled, were offered for the fall. The preschool drew from all faiths, about half being church members; and tuition was increased to $70 for all.
A church preschool has many advantages when it is sponsored by a church such as Westwood United Methodist. The Church and the personnel have cared about the preschool, but it was mostly Rev. Don Bible who was the backbone behind the preschool. Through his efforts, experience and time devoted, everything from painting to petitioning the city in court, he made it a success.
In the over forty years the preschool has been in existence, a great deal has changed. The preschool now serves children ages 2-5 through five different classes offered and the enrollment is now primarily neighborhood families. However, after all of these years, we do continue to rely heavily on the support of the Church in all our endeavors.