South Routt to decide about preschool | SteamboatToday.com

South Routt to decide about preschool

Mike Lawrence

— Preparing for an afternoon preschool session Wednesday in Oak Creek, paraprofessional Joyce Nothnagel sighed.

“We definitely need a new building,” Nothnagel said, bustling around the South Routt Early Learning Center with part-time teacher Karen Craig. “This building is just so old.”

Nothnagel should get her wish — construction of a new preschool is expected to begin in spring 2007. Tonight, the South Routt School Board is scheduled to decide where to put the new preschool — in Oak Creek, Stagecoach or Yampa.

A decision would end months of public forums, discussion and analyses of the sites, conducted by architect Jan Kominski of the Mountain Architecture Design Group. The board of directors for the new South Routt Early Learning Center recommended Yampa to the School Board in February, but board members were not convinced and decided to postpone a decision until tonight’s meeting.

On Wednesday afternoon, South Routt superintendent Kelly Reed said he was not sure what the School Board will decide.

“I really can’t say right now, in all honesty,” Reed said. “Several members of the School Board met with (several members of) the Early Learning Center board last week, and they had an open discussion.”

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Jane Toothaker, executive director of the Northwest Colorado Board of Cooperative Educational Services, which manages the South Routt preschool, said each site has advantages.

A preschool next to South Routt Elementary School in Yampa could allow a smoother transition for students. A preschool in Stagecoach could service a growing population, and an Oak Creek school would be close to South Routt services, Toothaker said.

Regardless of the site chosen, Toothaker said, parents can expect a continuation and improvement of preschool services.

“What we’re looking for is a new home for the program we already have in place,” Toothaker said. “We’re not wanting to change the program significantly.”

Nothnagel said about 45 students attend the preschool in three sessions. Primary teacher Cindy Ashley is on maternity leave. Teacher Lesa Radford and paraprofessional Lisa Constine work with Nothnagel and Craig.

The preschool occupies several small rooms in a Grant Avenue building that also contains private apartments and the South Routt Alternative School. Craig said the layout makes it difficult to monitor toddlers in different rooms.

“One big room would be nice,” Craig said.

If the School Board selects a site for the new center tonight, the board will apply for a construction grant from the Colorado Department of Local Affairs in the August grant cycle.

What: Meeting of the South Routt School Board

When: 7 p.m. today

Where: South Routt School District administrative office, behind Soroco High School in Oak Creek

Contact: Call the school district at 736-2313.