Kodiak’s St. Paul Preschool is closing, adding to island’s childcare shortage

a cloudy day in an island town
View of Kodiak from the Near Island Bridge. (Mitch Borden/KMXT)

St. Paul Preschool at the Lutheran Church in Kodiak is closing, adding to the shortage of childcare options on the island. Administrators say they can’t find a new director to keep the school open.

Parents were given letters late last week that said the last day of school for preschoolers at St. Paul Preschool is Oct. 31. 

Savannah Sella is the preschool’s interim director. She said the decision to close is devastating.

“It’s hard to be the one to hand that letter out and to see the stress and the pain, and I want nothing more than to help these families, but unfortunately we just kinda hit a dead end,” she said.

The preschool has been trying to hire a new director since August, when the former director took another job with the school district. The facility’s license requires the preschool to have a director with state credentials to remain in operation. Sella said parents were notified a few weeks ago that the preschool would close if that position wasn’t filled. As of last week, no one had even applied for the job. 

Nineteen children go to St. Paul Preschool. Sella said St. Paul’s program is one of the few childcare options in Kodiak for kids as young as 2-years-old. It’s open five days a week from 7:30 a.m. to 5:15 p.m., and through the summer. The school already had to make programming cuts over the summer because of staffing shortages. St. Paul ended its afterschool program for kids up to age 8 in May, according to Sella.

Sella said finding new childcare options in Kodiak right now is difficult. 

“I know some people have started getting on waitlists, there’s really nothing open,” she said.

Sella said eight part-time staff will also be losing their jobs with the preschool’s closure. Some of them have started looking into opening a licensed in-home daycare, which are also much needed in Kodiak, according to Sella. But there currently aren’t plans to open one anytime soon.  

In the meantime, Sella said St. Paul Preschool will continue its search for a new director. Staff hope to reopen at a future date.

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