Community

Preschool struggling to keep its doors open

Ellie Brown, a teacher at the South Colby Co-op for 25 years, celebrates students birthdays with festivities including a “birthday crown” and letting the child announce the day, month, season and year to the rest of the class.  - Courtesy photo
Ellie Brown, a teacher at the South Colby Co-op for 25 years, celebrates students birthdays with festivities including a “birthday crown” and letting the child announce the day, month, season and year to the rest of the class.
— image credit: Courtesy photo

The South Colby Cooperative Preschool can trace its history back 35 years, but its future could be numbered in days or months.

According to Lizz Oliver, the school’s treasurer, low enrollments are the cause of its current financial straits.

The preschool can just cover its general operating budget when classes are full, but many seats have stood empty lately.

Last year, the school came up $12,000 short of its budget goal, and so far this year the program still finds itself 10 short of its 60-student capacity, putting its future in jeopardy.

Oliver said the program just completed the most successful fundraising campaign in its history and the picture isn’t as bleak as it might have been, but additional students — and revenues — are still being sought.

It was easier for the preschool to fill its classrooms when it worked with the schools to educate handicapped kids, Oliver explained, but it hasn’t been able to fill all of the classrooms since it stopped receiving the public funding for them several years ago.

The Head Start and ECAP programs started offering preschool programs at Madrona Heights for mentally and physically disabled kids in south Kitsap county.

More pointedly, Oliver also said the economy may have discouraged parents from enrolling their children in preschool.

“Preschool is very important,” she said, “but it’s a luxury item, not a need. With the economy, that’s one thing that I think families are cutting out of their budget.”

But, with classes ranging from $45.00 per month to $230.00 per month, the South Colby Co-Operative Preschool is less expensive than other comparable preschools in the area. Class costs vary depending on parental involvement and the age of the children.

Classes that include parents every day are relatively inexpensive.

For others, parents can opt to not help out in the classroom for an additional fee.

Donations also help sustain the program. Recently, the Suquamish Tribe gave the school $1,000.

The school is located at the South Colby United Methodist Church near the Southworth Ferry terminal, but classes are secular.

For more information about the preschool, visit its website, www.mysccp.com; call (360) 871-4645; or e-mail info@mysccp.com.

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