Efforts to reopen Laurel Street Preschool in Steamboat Springs unsuccessful | SteamboatToday.com

Efforts to reopen Laurel Street Preschool in Steamboat Springs unsuccessful

Liana Del Herro and her daughter Ava along with Mike Killingsworth and his daughter Addison leave the Laurel Street Preschool on Wednesday afternoon. Parents were informed Tuesday that the school would be closing Wednesday in the wake of a state inspection report that revealed numerous violations. A meeting for the board to address families is at 5:30 p.m. Thursday.

— The efforts to reopen Steamboat Springs’ oldest preschool have failed, leaving some parents here disappointed that the school they once loved sending their kids to won’t reopen.

Laurel Street Preschool closed in May after a state inspection found a number of violations at the school.

The violations included having more children in a room than it legally could hold and children not being supervised at all times.

In recent months, some parents and new school board members who were passionate about the school were trying to raise enough money to get the doors back open.

But the efforts to reopen have not been successful.

"We couldn’t find the money to reopen," Samantha Salazar, the most recent board president, said Monday afternoon.

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She said her tenure as board president ended Monday morning.

The decision not to reopen came weeks after a board shake-up in October.

Todd Hagenbuch, the former board president, said board members disagreed as to whether there was a sustainable business model for the school going forward.

Hagenbuch said he and some other board members stepped down after they came to the realization the school couldn’t survive financially in the long run.

"It was super tough," Hagenbuch said of his decision to step down. "We didn’t have a business model that was going to sustain the long-term operation of the school, and several of us believed that was the case."

Hagenbuch and the original board had hoped they could raise the $20,000 they needed to reopen the school around the time the Steamboat Ski Area opened last month.

Marked by a giant statue of Yogi Bear, Laurel Street Preschool had operated for more than 40 years.

It served preschool-age and pre-kindergarten children, beginning at 2 1/2 years old.

Stephanie Martin, the program supervisor of First Impressions of Routt County, said the closure in May was hard for parents at first, but all of the children who were enrolled at Laurel Street were able to find places in other facilities.

"When we look at capacity for early childhood care and education, it’s the infants and toddlers we are short on capacity for," she said.

Laurel Street’s closure, which displaced around 30 kids, came as the Discovery Learning Center opened up a second classroom for pre-kindergarten students.

There also is potentially more room for the age groups served by Laurel Street to grow in other existing facilities in the city.

"It’s sad to see a program go away, but with Heritage Park Preschool trying to open a fourth classroom that closed during the recession, and Young Tracks having a classroom that closed during the recession, we had room for preschool and pre-kindergarten students," Martin said.

Still, Laurel Street’s closure is a reminder of the challenges many preschools in Routt County face, including high overhead costs and expanding regulations.

"It had a spectacular run, and it just wasn’t feasible at this time to continue it, so it was a bummer," Hagenbuch said.

To reach Scott Franz, call 970-871-4210, email scottfranz@SteamboatToday.com or follow him on Twitter @ScottFranz10.

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