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Baltimore County school board narrowly votes to close inclusive daycare center

Over half of the students at Campfield come from low-income families. Photo by Bri Hatch/WYPR.
Bri Hatch
Over half of the students at Campfield come from low-income families.

Campfield Early Learning Center in Baltimore County will close its doors in August 2026, after school board members voted 6-5 on Tuesday to officially shut down the disability-focused pre-K center.

Many board members called the decision a difficult one to make, especially after attending a public hearing last month where teachers and parents said closing the inclusive daycare would be a disservice.

One-third of Campfield’s 377 students have disabilities, and more than half come from low-income families.

“This center is for some of our most special needs children, and their needs are being met in this school,” board member Maggie Domanowski said. “It's hard for me to justify closing such a school.”

County Superintendent Myriam Rogers said all Baltimore County students deserve the level of dedication and attention that happens at Campfield. That’s why funding is set aside to upgrade facilities and resources in four local schools, where Campfield students will be relocated.

“Those programs are not going away,” Rogers said. “They will be going to the home schools, with those expanded capital projects for the students.”

Director of Facilities Pradeep Dixit said that the money for those renovations relies on Campfield’s closure and the reassignment of its students. If Campfield did not shut down, Dixit said, at least one of those four schools would not receive an upgrade.

Other board members are worried that the transition won’t be that easy.

Domanowski said that the increased capacity and class sizes anticipated for the renovated schools would hurt Campfield students.

“This is a smaller school for a reason,” she said. “These kids need that more individualized attention.”

Member Felicia Stolusky said Campfield’s level of service “would not just replicate itself” at a comprehensive K-5 school.

“My heart is just speaking to how important it is to put children first,” Stolusky said. “I can't wrap my head around a rational reason why the replacements would give all of those students an equal experience to what they currently have.”

But Rogers said there are issues at Campfield that need to be addressed.

“Because of the welcoming atmosphere, we're able to overlook some of the challenges that exist like transportation…and the transition that occurs after you have finished the pathway at Campfield,” she said.

Dixit also said that the Campfield building is “nowhere close” to the quality of the newly renovated school spaces.

“The physical environment that will be provided to our kids in the new buildings is far superior,” he said.

Campfield’s building will be repurposed for community use, Dixit said. But the specifics are still being considered.

Tiffany Frempong said that the board and district leadership need to be more transparent going forward, to ease Campfield parents’ nerves.

“The concern is we're taking them into the unknown,” she said. “I think it would be good to continue to hear throughout these meetings, what are the steps that are being taken to ensure or try to replicate that same type of support for these students?”

Bri Hatch (they/them) is a Report for America Corps Member joining the WYPR team to cover education.
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