Board members and staff at the Chilkat Valley Preschool are working to find a new home for their program. But they don’t think the deadline the Haines Borough has given them to vacate their current facility will work.
The Chilkat Valley Preschool serves 26 3-and-4-year-olds at $250 dollars each month per student. A borough-owned building on First Avenue has been the non-profit’s home for about 40 years.
Renee Hoffman is preschool’s office manager and one of the people leading the search for a new facility. She walks through the building, talking about all of the things that need repair.
“We’ve had to make some patches in the flooring, the fence is a big issue…the windows are really old,” she said.
Back in January, the preschool’s lease for this building was up for renewal. The Borough Assembly decided the building was too decrepit to maintain. They gave the preschool six months to leave. They later deadline extended the deadline to June 30th, 2015.
“The fact that it happened so abruptly is something that I don’t think anyone was expecting,” Hoffman said.
The preschool’s board of directors, which is made up of parents who have children there, has been frantically trying to raise money for the move. So far, they’ve raised about $60,000. They need to raise more in order to receive grants from organizations like the Rasmuson Foundation.
Because of fundraising struggles and the lack of a clear plan about where to move, the board is planning to ask the Borough for a lease extension.
“Obviously we’re gonna need an extension because whatever we do, whether it’s building a new building, buying a building that exists in town, or a modular – to ask a non-profit to accomplish that in one year with no solid funding toward that project is quite a feat,” Hoffman said.
“The Borough’s not closed to the idea [of an extension] but we want to make sure we have a firm plan in place for what is ultimately going to happen with [the preschool] before we make any clear decision,” said Borough Manager Dave Sosa.
Right now, the preschool does not have a firm plan in place.
Hoffman says their number one choice is to build a new facility on a lot close to the Haines School. Before, the board was considering purchasing a modular building to put on the Presbyterian Church property.
But they decided at a meeting Monday that a new building would be better because it would last longer. And if the preschool were close to the main school, it would benefit the school district if they ever decided to take on Pre-K.
The preschool’s second option: buying a building in town and renovating it. On Thursday, Hoffman and members of the preschool board took a tour of the former Lynn Canal Counseling building. It’s owned by Sue Foletti, who said she has wanted to sell “for a long time.”
Foletti would sell the half of the building where the counseling center used to be for $200,000. Hoffman says that would be about half the cost of constructing a new facility. And if they were to go with the Foletti building, they might be able to get the preschool ready by the start of next school year.
But they need to give Foletti an answer by the end of the year, and they’re not sure they can raise enough money by that time.
Hoffman says the preschool’s next step, aside from more fundraising, is to ask the Borough to extend the deadline.