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Budget Cuts Could Close UMaine Preschool 

A preschool at the University of Maine that’s been around for seventy years may soon be closing its doors.Budget cuts could mean the end of the Child Study Center.But parents aren’t letting it close without a fight.Amy Erickson has the story.< "This school has dramatically changed Matthew's life."Denise Needham says the change in her four-year-old son Matthew since he started attending the Child Study Center is nothing short of remarkable. "He started this school last year and was nonverbal the whole year. He couldn't talk and had fine motor issues.""My son has gone from nonverbal to talking, coloring, he speaks in full sentences now. It's a beautiful story."Needham has the option of sending Matthew elsewhere, on the state's dime, but keeps him here because he's thrived in the program.It's a lab school for the University of Maine's School of Psychology.Some of the kids have parents who are UMaine students or staff. Others are from the community at large."We educate the children, 2.5 to 5.5 years old, we educate the psychology students...and we're a resource for the families here."Kevin Duplissie is the Center's director and the head teacher.He found out recently the program, which has been around for seven decades, could soon be over. "Because of budget cuts and funding, there's a potential we may not be here in our present capacity in the fall."While Duplissie understands the budget crunch, he says what the Center provides to the University and the community is hugely important. "When you also combine the education the students receive, this meets the needs of so many different capacities on campus and the community and after 70 years, we'd like to keep it going."The 35 families who rely on the Center for their children's learning and development say they're willing to do what it takes to save the school. "We are ready to fund raise...whatever we can do to help keep it open."Amy Erickson, WABI TV5 News, Orono.>A 70th anniversary party for the Child Study Center will be held Tuesday at the Collins Center for the Arts on campus.Staffers are hoping alumni, families and friends of the Center will turn out to support the school and to help brainstorm ways to keep it open.If you’d like to attend, you can call the Center at 581-3272.