The Preschool – A rocky first year 2011-12

In early 2011, the preschool had been approved but it had to built out in both organization and space to meet the Sept., 2011 opening. It was basically a shell that needed contents.

In Nov. ,2010, the City Planning Commission approved the special use permit request unanimously allowing up to 36 children to attend the school. The first year was rocky with lower than expected enrollment, try to complete the occupancy permit, and a change in the director position.  It was both a learning year for students and the administration of the preschool.  And it would be another year before the preschool was self-supporting.

The Director/Head Teacher  Mauri  Elkins has hired from March to August and  have an 11 month contract. There would be one other teacher.  An open house was organized in March, 2011. The goal was have 16 students a day but they were budgeting for 14.   Sharon Babineau was hired as a second teacher in the organization process before the school year began.

The Vestry elected 5 people to the Board in  May, 2011 to a 2 year Board term to begin begin July 1. It was decided that the Treasurer’s report would be prepared annually in the spring and woulbel be reviewed at the May Vestry meeting.  They will report at 6 month intervals in May and November.

One major change was that age 5 was added so the school can better fit into a 100% Montessori framework.  The framework teaches in 3 year cycles which for the preschool would mean ages 3,4, and 5. That would not happen until year 2.

Signups were slow for the first year. By May, 2011  6 children had signed up though all are not full time. The preschool reported in Nov, 2011 after the school opened in Sept. 2011 that it was currently serving 11 children with two teachers and two clergy support. Five of the students  were on scholarship. This was below the goal of 16.

The first three months were disappointing. The school let the Vestry know that extra funding may be needed since they had overestimated enrollment and four students had unexpectedly withdrawn since the beginning of the school year.

The Preschool was  running in the red – Nov., 2011 ($5,640) March, 2012 ($2,505) $6,665 was approved by the Vestry in Nov., 2011 from the Mary Faulkner Fund ($6,000 was used). Also to help out with funding in March, 2012 50% of the Easter offering would go to the preschool.

The preschool began  signups early in the calendar year for the school year that commences in Sept.  In 2012,  signups for the 2012-2013  had improved- 19 students for next year with projected tuition to be $3,195 a month.  Kindergarten signups were slow. It was difficult to compete with public schools which provide transportation and meals.

Another challenge to the preschool came with a director change. Shandel Perron who had been a teacher and director of Christ Lutheran Preschool came in as director early in 2012.

The preschool developed new fundraising strategies. A preschool silent auction was implemented in Nov., 2012 and continued in the years to come and was a successful source of fundraising. Fundraisers with T shirts, Original Art works also brought funds to the preschool.

For the first year the preschool was in the red by ($5,983). They were able to absorb the loss through startup money.  General Endowment funds  provided scholarship of $6,750 for 2011 and $6,300 in 2012. The church made donations of $6,000 in late 2011. Cash balances increased from $6K to $10.6K.

Projections were to be more accurate in 2012 since they are based on actual registrations.

There was a growing relationship between the church and the school for 2012. More children of parishioners would be enrolled.   Also, they found Table clients were a source of preschool scholarships for some Hispanic students.  In once case, the child is able to go to school one day a week while her mother was working at the Table.

In 2012, the preschool reported in Nov. 2012, that the school was serving 21  compared to 11 a year  before. 13 of 21 were paying full tuition.  5 of the 21 were staying for the afternoon session.

Jim Dannals proclaimed by Nov., 2012 the preschool was self-supporting.  He affirmed the program was providing children a good preschool and reading readiness, particular with support for students who could not attend otherwise without a scholarship.

The issue of whether the school should be 100% Montessori was debated.  Jim advised Shandel to “go with the children and not worry about theory.”

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