Grand Lake, Granby parents scramble to set up new preschool as two face closure
May 14, 2009
Aware that two preschools serving families in the Granby and Grand Lake areas will shut their doors this summer, a group of parents is exploring ways to open a new school in Granby.
The C Lazy U Ranch Preschool and the Mountain Family Center Preschool are closing, each for slightly different reasons.
C Lazy owners who have supported the learning center rent-free for nearly 13 years have opted to exit the child-care business and “continue on their mission of a world-class dude ranch,” according to C Lazy U preschool founding director Sheryl Shushan, who commended the ranch for its history of childcare commitment.
Meanwhile, The Mountain Family Center board of directors voted on Wednesday to close its school in the town-owned modular next to Grand Lake Elementary School.
“We’ll be looking to be out of the building at the end of July,” said Mountain Family Executive Director Jan Korkowski.
The reason is enrollment, she said.
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“There are not enough kids registered for the school to be open and still be fiscally responsible.”
Six students ages 3-5 are enrolled at the two-day-a-week school. Four of them will graduate to kindergarten this summer.
“While all our other service programs have tripled, this one has dwindled,” the Mountain Family Center director said, referring to other family-support programs the Center provides.
The preschool opened two years ago to “fill the gap” in the wake of the His Kids Preschool closing at the Stillwater Community Chapel. The Mountain Family Center absorbed 11 students at that time.
Korkowski said the Center researched the number of students who might be enrolled next year and found it couldn’t justify keeping the Center open even with C Lazy U shutting its doors.
The C Lazy U taught about 30 students a school year, about 75 percent from the Granby area.
In learning that the school would be closing, parents of C Lazy U students along with Shushan, and C Lazy U preschool group leaders Mary Jane Skelley and Jamie Birch, banded together to find a space for a new preschool.
At Tuesday’s Granby town board meeting, they gained permission from trustees to explore using the former Panther’s Den building.
Shushan, who is the new Grand Beginnings executive director (a nonprofit dedicated to childcare support services), said about 12 returning C Lazy U preschool students would likely be enrolled in a new Granby preschool, with at least 20 other potential students in the area.
The preschool would be a small center, she said, with up to 15 students.
Parent Elizabeth Vecchiarelli said without the new school, she worries where she would send her child, whose name is now on six different preschool waiting lists throughout the county.
With contractors and engineers among the group, parent Patrick Brower and Vecchiarelli told Granby trustees parents would do in-kind renovations to the structure to qualify it for a state-licensed center with nonprofit status.
Trustees agreed this arrangement would be better than demolishing the building, which the town had planned to do.
“It would be a big expense to tear the place down where that doesn’t benefit the town,” pointed out Trustee Greg Mordini. “But the town would get a real benefit out of this.”
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