Holy Name Preschool closing

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After 25 years, Holy Name Preschool will close its doors in June.

Monsignor George Schroeder blamed the rising costs of personnel and utilities compared with flat parish contributions.

The Holy Name Preschool, a program of the Holy Name Catholic Parish, serves almost 40 children and has an afternoon kindergarten enrichment program attended by 12 children.

"It is a sad piece of information for our community," said First Impressions of Routt County Early Childhood Manager Renee Donahue. "This is a very high quality program for our youngest citizens to be educated in and get ready for school and for life."

Holy Name Preschool is the second preschool in the past eight months to announce its closure. In August, Kinderhaus Family Center closed, displacing 30 to 35 children, Donahue said.

"As far as we are concerned, this magnifies the whole problem of providing early child-care programs in Routt County and basically all over," Donahue said.

Dramatically increasing healthcare costs played a large role in the parish's decision to close the preschool, Schroeder said. The preschool has five full-time employees and four part-time employees.

The parish pastoral and finance councils formed a committee a few months ago to examine the preschool budget and how much the parish could continue to subsidize it, Schroeder said.

Of the students attending the school, Schroeder said, between six and eight are members of the parish.

The committee consulted with offices of the Catholic Archdiocese of Denver dealing with education, human services and parish finances. The parish was told that when an education program is being subsidized by more than 22 percent to 25 percent, Schroeder said, the financing "was really, really very serious."

The preschool's subsidy was crawling to that point and might have reached it next year with the rising cost of health insurance, Schroeder said.

In an executive session Saturday, the councils unanimously voted to close the preschool.

The preschool charged $38 a day for child care. Donahue said few slots are open in other day-care centers in the community that could serve the 40 families who used the Holy Name Preschool.

"There is a pretty big impact. As far as I know, most of the families were working families that needed care so they could go to their jobs," Donahue said.

Two preschools have opened recently; one on the west side of town and the other in North Routt, but those serve the needs of parents in the outlying areas, Donahue said. No plans exist for any new child-care facilities, she said.

The Holy Name Preschool opened with volunteers in the basement of the church in 1978 as a low-cost alternative for child care.

"As I understand it, there was a real need for (child care) in the community," Schroeder said.

In 1991, the preschool moved into the main floor of the Family Life Center next to the church at 514 Oak St.

The upper floors of the Family Life Center will continue to be used for other parish uses, and Schroeder said the church continues to examine uses for the first floor.

-- To reach Christine Metz call 871-4229

or e-mail cmetz@steamboatpilot.com

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