Big move stirs large emotions for preschool

Staff writerJune 17, 2013 

Students at Eastside Cooperative Preschool in Olympia had a lot of questions last week about the school’s big move.

Specifically, would the wooden blocks get moved? Would the dolls get moved? What about the sandbox or the aquarium filled with tadpoles?

“They want to know that every single thing will be moved,” teacher Norma Larson said with a chuckle.

Classes wrapped up Thursday, and parents from the school were scheduled to move most its inventory Friday and Saturday to the school’s new and temporary location at McKenny Elementary School.

“It’s very sad for us to be leaving this site,” said Maggie Sinclair, chair of the preschool’s board of directors. “Parents have put a lot of time and money into the playground. It’s hard to leave.”

However, the preschool’s families also are looking forward to future opportunities, she added.

The Olympia School District owns the land at 1412 Boulevard Road SE, the former McKinley Elementary School site, where the preschool has been for about 20 years.

It’s where the district soon will break ground for the new Olympia Regional Learning Academy, a 66,000-square-foot facility that will house three alternative programs, including Homeschool Connect, an online school for grades 6-12 and a Montessori program for elementary school-age children.

The preschool has until the end of July to vacate the property. That includes a 960-square-foot schoolhouse that preschool officials are hoping to get rid of – as soon as possible.

“It’s solid; it’s been inspected; it’s been checked for lead in the paint,” Larson said.

“It’s listed for free right now,” Sinclair said.

If Eastside Co-op can’t get rid of the building, the organization will have to pay about $6,000 in demolition costs, she said.

“We really want to avoid that,” Sinclair said.

Eastside Co-op serves about 35 children ages 2-5. It’s based on the “learning through play” education model, and parents take turns working alongside the school’s teachers.

“We have a partnership with South Puget Sound Community College,” Sinclair said. “We’re not only a preschool, but we’re also a classroom for parents as well.”

The preschool has been given a two-year lease by the district for space at McKenny Elementary School.

By the time the lease is up, preschool officials hope to open at a permanent site.

“It’s a great school, and that part is not going to change with the location change,” said parent Dana Kiehl, 34, of Olympia.

For more information on the free building, call 360-754-3938.

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