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Bayfield preschool still needs permanent home
9/12/2008 By: Melanie Mazur
More than two years after it started a capital-funding campaign, the Bayfield Early Education Program has raised more than $200,000, but is starting to run out of time to find a new home.
"We are getting to that desperate point," said BEEP Board Member Jackie Morlan. "We're not in panic yet, but we sure need to make some decisions fairly shortly, whether to invest in land that's a higher figure than we anticipated, or find an interim home."
BEEP is a non-profit community preschool for children ages three to six. The school currently serves 93 children from Bayfield and Ignacio and has eight teachers and four staff.
For the past three years, the school has used extra space in the old Bayfield schoolhouse downtown. But next fall, Bayfield Elementary will move all of its kindergarten and first grade classes into the building.
"We have to be out in June," said Carol Blatnick, the executive director at BEEP.
The school's fundraising goal for a building is $1.3 million, but to get grants from the large foundations in Colorado, about $300,000 in local "seed money" needs to be raised to show support for the project, Blatnick explained.
That's a lot of money for a small town, and a small school that receives no tax funding.
Because the preschool is not part of the school district or town, it is ineligible for state grants.
Finding an affordable two acres of property in town limits also has been difficult. The board has mapped out all lots in town and is approaching property owners asking if they would be interested in selling their land.
"I think we have some possibilities," Morlan said. They hope a property owner would be willing to look at a long-term lease, or donating part of the land for the hefty child-care tax credit it could provide.
Preschool board members have been quick to praise the many donors to the project.
"Our community is very responsive to all of our fundraisers," Morlan said. What seems lacking at this point is one person or business willing to help buy or donate land.
Members of the school's advisory board are Morlan, Garry Hillyer of Southwest Ag, attorney Chris O’Shea Heydinger, Eric Spady of Southern Ute Housing, Denise Martin of Diamond Outitters, Susan Turner of Southern Ute Health Service, accountant Kari Jenkins, and parents Jenna Stumpf and Donna Millward. The preschool can be reached at 884-7137.