Preschool wants to grow

S. Routt's only program looking at new building

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Officials at South Routt County's only preschool are pursuing grants in hopes of constructing a new building.

The old facility is in need of many repairs, and the number of enrolled students is growing. In other words, it's time for a new building, said Cindy Ashley, director of the South Routt Early Learning Center.

"We're pretty much stretched as far as we can be," Ashley said.

Another concern with the current facility is that it is in a modular apartment building in a residential area of Oak Creek. Managing the apartments and renters can be time-consuming, and having a preschool below rented apartments is not ideal, she said.

The SRELC, through the South Routt School District, is requesting a $17,000 planning grant from the Colorado Department of Local Affairs to research a new building. Another $3,000 for the planning process would be provided by the preschool.

The grant will help officials decide important details, such as where a new facility should be located, how big it should be, how much it would cost and how it would be funded.

Three possible locations for the building are behind the South Routt School District's administration building in Oak Creek, on the grounds of the South Routt Elementary School in Yampa and on land proposed for a future school in Stagecoach.

Being close to another school allows the preschool to do cooperative learning activities such as buddy reading and co-learning, Ashley said.

Ashley could not estimate how much the building might cost or how long it would take to build. The cost, she said, will vary depending on the site.

Funds for a new building would come, in part, from selling the current building, which is expected to generate about $200,000, and also from grants.

The SRELC is run through a partnership of the SRELC board of directors, the South Routt School District and the Northwest Colorado Board of Cooperative Educational Services.

The need for a new building has been discussed for the past two or three years, Ashley said. The preschool is five years old.

The SRELC began with 10 children. Officials are expecting 45 students to enroll for the coming school year.

The facility is licensed to serve 15 students at a time, so with 45 students, the facility is inadequate, even with two half-day sessions offered five days a week.

Ideally, a new facility would have at least two classrooms to allow two teachers to teach at the same time, Ashley said.

-- To reach Susan Cunningham, call 871-4203 or e-mail scunningham@steamboatpilot.com

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