Downtown Little School will close at the end of the school year

Downtown Little School, the preschool on Dutch Street that was founded in 1999, will close permanently at the end of this school year. This is sad to hear — my middle child attended when we first moved to the neighborhood — and yet another result of the damage wrought by the pandemic. I have yet to get a handle on our population stats here (it’s on my list) but there has definitely been a shift, and it’s not just more families using private schools.

“We are writing with news that’s very difficult to share,” school directors Kate Delacorte and Meredith Gary wrote in an email to alumni. “Since the pandemic, our enrollment has been shrinking. We’ve closed one classroom and current class sizes are very small. We hoped that our increased outreach, combined with our consistently strong reputation, would, over time, counter this trend. But, with a nudge from our board, we have finally accepted that the time to close has come.”

The Little School was founded by Kate , a native New Yorker who was the longtime director of the Pace Little School, the laboratory school for the Pace University School of Education. There, Kate also taught courses at Pace in children’s literature, cultural diversity and children’s play. And when Pace Little School closed in 1999, the Downtown Little School opened just down the street at 15 Dutch and Fulton.

She was joined in 2005 by fellow Pace teacher Meredith Gary, who was also the founding director of the Williamsburg Neighborhood Nursery School.

The school hosted its first-ever reunion last year, drawing alumni from over the decades. “While a lot has changed for us on Dutch Street over the years, the things we’ve always been able to count on are the loyalty of our alumni families,” the directors wrote, and, referring to the never-ending construction on their little alleyway, a note that only a true New Yorker could appreciate, “…and scaffolding.”



  1. Downtown Little School families are currently organizing a rapid fundraising and enrollment drive to keep DLS open. We are hopeful our support will make a difference to the future of the School, and welcome the support of the broader downtown community in our efforts to keep DLS open for years to come.

  2. Could you provide contact info for this fundraising effort? Thx!

  3. I wonder if they have considered moving the school rather than closing. FWIW we did not consider sending our child there because of the location/neighborhood (which has seen a sharp turn negative since COVID), even though everyone we met from the school was lovely and seemed to really care for the kids.