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Santa Maria Sun / News

The following article was posted on March 20th, 2013, in the Santa Maria Sun - Volume 14, Issue 2 [ Submit a Story ]
The following articles were printed from Santa Maria Sun [santamariasun.com] - Volume 14, Issue 2

Blochman school district will lose its preschool

BY CAMILLIA LANHAM

Citing shaky finances, the Blochman Union School District’s board of education decided on March 12 to close its only preschool at the end of the 2012-2013 school year.

The preschool was established at Benjamin Foxen Elementary in 2009 and has never received state funding. It’s paid for through tuition and help from the elementary school’s budget. This year, however, the preschool could no longer sustain itself, the elementary school’s principal Doug Brown said.

“It was all for financial reasons,” he said. “It was a great preschool; we had a great staff.”

California’s budget for preschools is also maxed out, so community members have tried over the last year to fundraise for the preschool with limited results.

Brown said the preschool was started with the intention that over time, more and more students would attend. But because of the rural location, the preschool never reached capacity.

The Blochman school district serves 138 students in the unincorporated areas of Garey, Sisquoc, and Tepusquet, with the majority of the students attending Benjamin Foxen Elementary in grades kindergarten through eight.

Nancy Shafer, interim business manager for the district, said the preschool was taking finances away from the district’s core mission, which is Kindergarten through eighth grade education.

“There aren’t enough young children out there to sustain the [pre]school,” Shafer said.

On average, the preschool takes care of 10 to 12 students a day. There are 15 students enrolled, but not all are fulltime, and each family pays tuition for its child. The school costs approximately $60,000 per year for the district to operate, and it’s currently operating at a $20,000 loss. Shafer said raising the tuition would have made the school too expensive for families.

She said to cover operating costs, they would need to have 19 students attending every day, which in turn would mean they would need to hire another teacher because of the state’s adult-to-student ratio requirements. The preschool has one teacher and one assistant to cover 18 students.

“Even if you had 18 [students] coming five days a week, which we don’t, you couldn’t cover costs,” Shafer said.