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Baltimore County teachers, parents fight to keep Campfield Early Learning Center open

Baltimore County teachers, parents fight to keep Campfield Early Learning Center open
Baltimore County teachers, parents fight to keep Campfield Early Learning Center open 01:46

BALTIMORE - Parents are speaking out against the Baltimore County School Board's proposed plans to close the doors of Campfield Early Learning Center.

It's all part of the district's larger redistricting plan to increase school capacity in the district.

Parents and teachers say Campfield is the only Early Learning Center in Baltimore County, and they are afraid that closing its doors will impact students' educational proficiency.

"Campfield has become a part of the family," parent Elaine DeCastro said.

DeCastro said the Early Learning Center is more than just four walls and a roof. It serves as a safe place for her son.

"He's a special needs child and their program is amazing, the teachers, the staff," DeCastro said.

Wednesday night, DeCastro took a stand in front of the Baltimore County School Board and asked them to keep Campfield's doors open. 

On August 8, Baltimore County Public School Superintendent Dr. Myriam (Yarbrough) Rogers recommended the school's closure and pointed to four northwestern elementary school capital projects set to wrap up in 2026.

The projects would add more than 1,200 seats to elementary schools. 

This increases primary school capacity in the area and allows Campfield students to return to their home schools while the building gets repurposed. 

That's something educators like Daniel Chaney say they don't want to see happen.

"Most schools, the administration can't focus on early childhood in such a way that ours does," said Chaney, a special educator at Campfield.

Campfield is also a Judy Center designed to help promote school readiness for young children by providing family services such as childcare and health services. 

It teaches pre-k and kindergarten to nearly 400 children. Thirty-three percent of them are children with special needs.

Leah Strauss, who has been a special educator at Campfield for eight years, says their lessons at the school go beyond the classroom.

And closing the doors, she says, could be detrimental to development. 

"The foundation for students being set up for success would be greatly diminished and they would be thrown into overcrowded classrooms left to think or swim on their own," Strauss said.

The School Board is set to make their final vote on the future of Campfield on Sept. 12.

If approved, the closure would go into effect Fall of 2026.

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