JOHNSON CITY, Tenn. (WJHL) – The Director of Shining Stars Christian Learning Center has confirmed with News Channel 11 they will be closing at the end of next week.
According to the director of the learning center, they currently serve 85 children at their location on South Roan Street.
The Facebook page lists their mission statement as the following:
“The mission of Shining Stars Christian Learning Center is to provide a place for children to experience a safe, loving and educational environment. This is achieved though age-appropriate group and individual activities that teach children to love and respect themselves and others. Our goal is to nurture the mental, physical, emotional, and spiritual growth of each child.”
Shining Stars Christian Learning Center
When we spoke to the director over the phone Monday morning, they could not go into detail about why they were closing but did say they’ve been open for three years. The director also said a letter of intent for a five-year lease was sent through the mail and verified over the phone by the owner of Shining Stars Christian Learning Center, Mr. Buddy Hardin.
The Building is currently being leased from New Peoples Bank in Abingdon, VA.
The director of the center said that if it was up to her, they would be keeping their doors open.
Many parents of children who go to Shining Stars Christian Learning Center are now struggling to find another option for child care.
Abby Greene has a child that has gone to Shining Stars for the past three years.
“It’s one of the nicest facilities I’ve been in and through my line of work I’ve been in and out of a lot of centers,” said Greene.
Greene is a social worker and says that she even struggles to find childcare for some of her social work cases,
“Occasionally I have to assist families in locating childcare and it’s very difficult. There are no facilities in this area that are accepting children.”
The Tennessee Department of Human Services lists childcare providers in the state, rating them from one to three stars. Shining Stars Christian Learning Center is listed at three stars on the department’s website.
Aaron Jestrab has a child who has gone to the center for a little over a year now. He explained to News Channel 11 the process of how parents were informed about the lease agreement.
“In August they received a letter of intent from the bank stating that they would have a three-year agreement through a lease renewal with another option for a two year additional with renegotiations. So they took that letter with a guarantee of lease,” explained Jestrab.
The director of the center told us that the owner of Shining Stars verified the agreement over the phone with the bank. Jestrab said that at the beginning of the year a contract was placed on the property. Parents were then notified about the issues.
“They found out that the other contract buyer pulled out of the agreement due to they had some environmental studies that have been done that they weren’t satisfied with. Shining Stars is fully willing to participate in any kind of clean up actions and whatnot to remediate the issues,” said Jestrab.
Jestrab said that parents were notified about the environmental study and were informed that the children were not in any danger due to the issue.
Steve Brookins is another concerned parent and is also a broker at his own rental company. He said that anytime a big commercial buy is made, there is always an environmental study done.
However, on June 27 Shining Stars Christian Learning Facility told parents in an emergency meeting that lease negotiations had ended and that they will be closing their doors on July 12.
“This facility was well laid out. The teachers are well educated. They take continuing education credits. They all have degrees. To lose something like this in a market that is completely unsaturated with available daycares is disheartening,” said Jestrab.
Brookins saying, “There are hardly any other daycares that will take an infant”
We called several other daycares in the Johnson City area and the Early Learning Center First United Methodist Church in Johnson City told us they have a waiting list of 113 children. They tell us that 54 of those children are under 1-year-old.
We also reached out to New Peoples Bank in Abingdon, VA. Todd Asbury, the President & CEO gave us the following statement over the phone,
“Due to a pending litigation with Mr. Hardin we are unable to make any further comment at this time.”Todd Asbury, President & CEO
Shining Stars sent out a letter to their parents stating,
“For the past three years we have worked to create a business in Johnson City, Tennessee that both provide a safe and loving environment for children and is affordable for people of all classes.”