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Preschool in jeopardy

Posted 3/17/15 (Tue)

By Amy Robinson
Farmer Staff Writer

The First Lutheran Preschool and After School Program Board of Directors is actively seeking new members to ensure their community-needed programs will not have to shut their doors at the end of the school year.
“We have the potential to serve over 100 families through the Preschool, After School, and Summer  programs,” said Heather Wisness, First Lutheran Preschool and After School Program Board president. “Those families are at risk of losing these programs and we feel it’s extremely important to have them available in our community. We’ve reached out to our current families for new board members with little response, so now we’re reaching out to the entire community.”
Currently, there are five members serving on the board. And all of those members have children who have either been out of the programs for several years, or will be graduating from preschool this year, so the members will be transitioning off of the board as well. Which means the entire board will eventually have to be replaced with new members.
 According to Wisness, the members of the current board come with diverse backgrounds, from business to finance, to education. They have worked hard to manage and oversee the Preschool and After School programs, and now their number one goal is to encourage and find several individuals and leaders from the community to take their places within the next month to continue providing these great programs to the children in the community. From there, they hope to train those individuals and transition out by the end of the school year.
“We are looking for people who are fun, energetic, and willing to give some of their time,” said Wisness. “People who have some flexibility in their time and schedule, who could potentially fill in as needed. Ideally, we’d like to recruit four to eight individuals to serve on this board. Instead of just being an advisory board, it’s a very hands-on working board. Some of their duties would include recruiting and hiring staff, overseeing curriculum plans, and ensuring that the children in all of our programs are receiving a quality experience.”
The Preschool Program has been in operation for over 30 years because there’s been a community need for it. According to Angie Pelton, First Lutheran Preschool and After School Program Board treasurer, there are over 80 families currently utilizing the Preschool and After School programs. And with summer fast approaching, the Summer Program is slated to start as well. Once the programs are at capacity this summer, they will serve over 100 families.
“When we’re at full capacity, we serve over 100 families,” says Pelton. “This program is really needed in this community. And I think it’s fantastic for individuals to get involved in something that’s so positive to the community – whether it’s with their kids or other kids.”
The Preschool program is primarily funded from student tuition. Three years ago, the After School and Summer programs were started because there was a need in the community, but also to help with funding and to be able to offer competitive wages for their teachers. In addition to student’s tuition, the programs have been very grateful to receive a few private donations that have allowed the programs to be successful, and go above and beyond what was originally planned for the children.
“One of our goals for the Preschool has been to make it possible for any and all children to attend, regardless of their financial situation,” said Wisness. “We try to keep our tuition as low as possible to ensure that, and having the First Lutheran Church’s support by allowing us the use of the C.E. Building is one of the ways we have kept our tuition manageable for all families.”
The Preschool and After School programs currently employ a program director, a lead teacher, and a teacher’s assistant. The current board members have volunteered their time as members anywhere from one to seven years.
If any individual is interested in becoming a board member or has further questions, contact Wisness at heatherwisness@gmail.com.
“There is a strong need for these programs in our community,” says Wisness. “We are very hopeful to hear from several individuals who are excited and willing to volunteer their time to ensure the programs’ future success.”