June 30, 2010
Several friends in my neighborhood have children at Puddletown School; one of the teachers there came to dinner at my house a few weeks ago as part of the Village Building Convergence. Through them, I know it to be a jewel of a Montessori school. Like many preschools, it's been shuttled from church to used-to-be-a-church to senior center through its life, never quite comfortable and permanent. I, too, have worked to find a space for a child's playspace, and I empathize with the community's struggle. I so wish it was easier to find spaces for preschools, who need safe, clean ground floor locations; several rooms; close and easy access to bathrooms; and a nearby outdoor space for active play.
Even through the economy's downturn, though, the sort of real estate appropriate for preschools is expensive and often requires difficult upgrades. Preschools operating in a home's large daylight basement, or ground floor, have it easier, as they need not rely on a landlord's good graces; they do require special approval and licensing, however, which takes precious time.
In this case, as seems to be the concern so frequently, Puddletown is losing its lease because its landlord, the Holgate Center at SE 32nd and Holgate, is using the space for other things. Now, with new families signed up for fall and the older children eager to get back to their teachers, the school is adrift without options. Do you have ideas? Has your preschool been through a similar upheaval? What advice do you have for these families?