Archive for Wednesday, February 13, 2002

Rainbow Preschool sees glimmer of hope

February 13, 2002

There's still some hope for Rainbow Preschool.

The Baldwin Board of Education heard a proposal Monday night that would allow the local preschool to move into the Baldwin Elementary School.

"As building principal, I think we can make this work," Principal Tom Mundinger said. "There are a lot of positives."

Rainbow Preschool, which must move from its current location at the First United Methodist Church in May, has spent the last few months searching for a new home with little success.

That's why Rainbow Preschool Board President Heather Brungardt said the preschool is excited about the possibility of moving into BES.

"I think what a wonderful thing for the community and the children," she said. "We think it's a great place to be on a long-term basis."

The proposal would allow the preschool to have class in the elementary school for a user fee, but still remain a private, not-for-profit organization.

Mundinger said even though he thinks the situation could work, the school does have some reservations including space concerns.

Until the new elementary school is built in a little more than a year, he said the preschool, which currently has three half-day classes, would probably have to share class space with the kindergarten.

"The current enrollment is 458. If you add the 42 preschoolers, that's 500 students," he said. "We can make it work for a year, but if they move in today there would be 500 kids."

Another concern he said has been raised is the separating of the public school from the private school and how much the preschool will depend on the elementary's staff and faculty.

"Our time will be used," he said.

Brungardt said there are several benefits to moving the preschool into BES.

"There are so many positive reasons for us to move to the elementary school," she said. "We could collaborate with the other preschools and enhance our programs."

She said parents of the preschoolers would also get an earlier opportunity to become involved at the elementary.

"They'll become more connected to the elementary school," she said.

Rainbow Preschool Director Susan Demarest said if the preschool were to move to BES, it could continue to provide the same services it has been for the past 40 years.

"It would help us in continuing to provide a quality preschool," Demarest said.

"I think the bottom line is the preschool has been in town 40 years," she said. "If we lose it, it would mean parents would have to go as far away as Lawrence for preschool."

The school board voted 7-0 to pursue a one-year written agreement draft that would map out all of the details including a user fee and preschool and district expectations and needs.

The board will vote on the agreement at the next school board meeting.

Mundinger said he believes something can be worked out between the preschool and the district.

"I support this," he said. "We can make this work."

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