The preschool arose in part from a Virginia Preschool initiative. The Vestry minutes of Nov., 2007 reported that “Cary, Jim and Gay recently attended a meeting on the Virginia Pre-School Initiative that is being sponsored by the Governor of Virginia. The issue is the large number of underserved three to four years olds in Virginia due to affordability issues with kindergarten. There will be some investigation of what St. George’s can do.” This was followed up by a March, 2008 meeting with the United Way concerning the needs of local children.
The United Way had done a children’s assessment for the community which pointed out needs involving the preschool group. They were looking at a variety of interrelated goals of mental health, children and affordable housing. At that point Rev. Jim Dannals wanted to expand a growing dialog for a preschool. Ultimately it became part of the preschool goal of offering scholarships to children in need
The Preschool would need space. The renovation from 2007-2011 had created a new 3rd floor facility in McGuire Hall for the music program which was in the McGuire Basement. The area in the basement which eventually became known as the atrium would be available for both Sunday School and a future preschool
In Sept. ,2008 Jim Dannals introduced a proposal for a downstairs bathroom to be created in the space occupied by the first floor music room when the music room moves up to McGuire’s third floor. This was completed in Jan., 2009
However, there was another preschool group that wanted to rent St. George’s space. In Feb., 2009 the Vestry held a preliminary discussion about Peace Fountain Montessori School renting space. Representatives came to answer questions. The Vestry consensus was to proceed with the school’s request for renting space. The proposal would move forward to the next stage.
This proposal never got off the ground. By the end of 2009, the preschool was one of five proposals before the General Endowment Fund for funding. Discussions for a St. George’s preschool increased in 2009 so that by Jan., 2010 it was reported the Church may be starting its own school in the fall and there would be a conflict in space. The Peace Fountain proposal was dead in the tracks and eventually they withdrew the request.
By March, 2010 there had been two meetings about a proposed preschool, a public meeting to discuss the tasks to be done and the second meeting forming an adhoc committee of about 7 people. There are four areas:
Area 1 is researching the demographics of the underserved local population and providing a survey.
Area 2 is dealing with licensing requirements from the Department of Social Services.
Area 3 is working with the City of Fredericksburg over requirements.
Area 4 is reviewing the certification requirements of the National Association for the Education of Young Children. This certification is only available after the preschool opens.
In April, 2010 basic decisions had been made about the school
- Beginning students would 3-4 year olds.
- The program would be scheduled in the morning with students spending part of the time together and separately.
- School would be open 2-5 days during the week depending on input from the families.
- There would 2 paid staff for the opening group numbering 12-14 children. They would start the first year small and expand.
- The group would be establishing a ratio of St. George’s children vs. non-St. Georgians and a ratio for students requiring scholarships and those not. The group is committed to serving the underserved.
- The school would not a separate entity but would function as a ministry of the Church.
- The target opening date for the school is January, 2011.
Jim reported to the Vestry that the school would be self supporting except for scholarships that he hoped to request from the Female Charity School, Endowment Fund and the Mary Faulkner Estate.
The goal is that 25% of the preschool students would be on scholarship
By June, 2010, the Preplanning meeting of the Fredericksburg Planning Commission went well and they approved picking up and dropping off children in the alley behind the church. (Eventualy the city would drop that idea). A board of 8 was approved.
Due to the amount of work to be done to establish the school, opening of the preschool was delayed from January, 2011 to September, 2011.
In Nov. ,2010, the City Planning Commission approved the special use permit request unanimously allowing up to 36 children to attend the school. However, the Commission would not allow an alley drop off and there could not be a car pool line on Princess Anne Street. Parents will park and walk their children in to the school
Before then the Vestry approved the preschool in Oct. 2010 and its bylaws.
It was reported to the Vestry that the school would open in the fall of 2011 with tuition from $350 to $375. Children ages 3 and 4 will attend with a 2,3, or 5 day option. They are leaning toward a Montessori based program. The Director/Head Teacher will work part time from February to August and have an 11 month contract. The other position is a teacher with a 9 month contract.