Preschool for developmentally disabled closes

Thursday, July 6th 2000, 12:00 am
By: News On 6

BARTLESVILLE, Okla. (AP) -- A preschool for developmentally disabled children here has been closed, the school's board announced.

The closure of the nonprofit Bellringer School comes after more than 40 years of community service but it is still badly needed, said teacher Bonnie Miller.

Miller taught the school's children how to eat, spell and work with their hands at the school. She said smaller enrollment and tighter funding weighed into the decision to close the school, which was announced earlier this week.

"Our moms, when we told them the school was going to close, they just cried and cried," Miller said. "They said 'What are we going to do with our children?"'

Miller said she watched the program grow from using homemade supplies to state-of-the-art equipment donated by community supporters. Now the school's supplies are slated to be sold, she said.

"I just can't believe it's not there anymore," Miller said. "I feel so sad for the children because there is no other place for them. I told them I would even take a cut in pay (to stay open)."

Bartlesville Public Schools' program for developmentally disabled students offers half-day preschool classes at Southview School. Children often participated in both the Southview and Bellringer programs to prepare for life as students in larger public school classrooms.