Local News

Hot Competition for Preschool Leaves Parents in the Cold

Posted January 24, 2008 10:56 p.m. EST
Updated January 25, 2008 1:44 p.m. EST

— Fans braved chilly temperatures and bundled up in sleeping bags, heavy coats, gloves and scarves to wait outside all night – at preschools in Wake County.

Demand for space in popular preschools in Wake County has gotten so hot that parents were willing to camp outside overnight to ensure that their children get spots for the fall.

Parents of preschool children said their situation is all about supply and demand.

"This is what you have to do to get your kids into a preschool in the area," said Dan O'Connell, who secured the second-place spot in line at Hope Lutheran Church in Wake Forest.

Danielle Steele beat O'Connell to the punch by arriving at the church's preschool at 3 p.m. Thursday. The school will open its doors for fall registration at 8:30 a.m. Friday.

Hope Lutheran's preschool has already received nearly 200 application requests, staffer Regina Fisher said. Nearly half of the applicants will be turned away due to the growing demand.

"We would rather they not come so early, but it's a compliment to our program that they value what we do here," Fisher said.

A similar scene was developing outside the Primrose School, just down the road in Wake Forest. Primrose has been open for less than two years, but is already nearly full.

"A lot of our parents are relocating from New York, New Jersey, those types of places, because of the many advantages in the Raleigh-Wake Forest area," Primrose employee Melissa Pettis said.

Steele admitted that even some other parents think waiting outside a preschool overnight was a bit too much.

"I already know I'm crazy. My husband thinks I'm crazy," she said.

Still, Steele said, the pressure is on parents to go to extremes in order to secure a spot for the child at popular preschools. She was willing to brave overnight lows predicted to hit 21 degrees to get for a slot at Hope Lutheran.

"This is not the only school I'm trying for, because I have to have a back-up plan," Steele said. "I could do this and not get in."