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Preschool looks to expand

Brent Boyer

The North Routt Preschool plans to construct a new facility adjacent to the North Routt Community Charter School in Clark.

Nancy White, director of the 2-year-old preschool, said it needs to expand and move for several reasons, including the increasing demand in North Routt for infant and toddler care. The preschool is housed in the historic Moonhill Schoolhouse south of Clark, and renovation restrictions and the absence of a long-term lease have prevented the center from providing care for infants and toddlers.

“The whole point in building a new center is so we can take infants and toddlers,” White said Tuesday. “(The Moonhill Schoolhouse location) has always been a temporary fix.”

But moving to a new building adjacent to the North Routt Community Charter School also will enable the two entities to share resources and partner in educational field trips and other activities, White said. A new location also will centralize the community’s two education programs, a convenience for North Routt families.

“It will be a wonderful amenity to keep the children in the community close to one another,” White said.

Preschool officials hope to build on a parcel of privately owned land east of the charter school. The landowner will allow the preschool to lease the land on a long-term basis, White said. She hopes construction can begin this summer, but raising the $550,000 needed to build the facility could cause delays.

The preschool is applying for a $300,000 Community Development Block Grant offered through the Colorado Department of Local Affairs. Any grant monies received will be used for construction costs, White said.

On Tuesday, Routt County commissioners gave a higher prioritization to a Community Development Block Grant application submitted by LIFT-UP of Routt County, the only other local entity to submit an application for the grant program’s next funding cycle. Although the grant applications are submitted to the state, local boards of county commissioners are required to prioritize the applications before submission.

County commissioners Doug Monger and Dan Ellison expressed strong support for the construction of a new preschool facility in Clark, but said they thought LIFT-UP’s application better fit the grant criteria and would serve more of the community. However, the lower prioritization doesn’t preclude the preschool from receiving some or all of its grant request. LIFT-UP’s grant request is for $300,000 to help purchase land and construct a new facility west of downtown Steamboat.

Preschool officials are optimistic that a new facility can be constructed even without the assistance of Community Development Block Grant funding. They are hopeful that community and business support, as well as in-kind donations, will help them raise the money required to construct the facility. Preschool officials likely will continue to pursue grant opportunities.

“We’ll pull it off,” North Routt Preschool board member Stephanie Anderson said.

White started the preschool about two years ago in response to the growing North Routt demand for local child-care providers, a need brought on by the community’s growing population and the increasing number of residents who work in the area and don’t want to commute to Steamboat Springs for child care. North Routt Preschool is licensed by the state and is a member of First Impressions of Routt County.

Fifteen students are enrolled at the preschool, but daily attendance usually hovers at about six or seven children, White said. A new center will be licensed to care for 15 children at a time, including infants and toddlers. Because most families don’t use the preschool five days a week, the new facility could serve up to 43 children, Anderson told county commissioners.

A lack of licensed infant- and toddler-care facilities has plagued the county for years, said Renee Donahue of First Impressions. Only two county child-care centers are licensed to provide care for infants and toddlers, and both have waiting lists. Several in-home providers care for infants and toddlers, but they too are full, Donahue said.

— To reach Brent Boyer call 871-4234

or e-mail bboyer@steamboatpilot.com


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