Dolores School Board OKs infant-toddler center

Facility to break ground in June

Nori Begay works with children at the Dolores Teddy Bear Preschool. She is one of the teachers who will be taking care of infants for the preschool addition. Enlargephoto

Sam Green/The Journal

Nori Begay works with children at the Dolores Teddy Bear Preschool. She is one of the teachers who will be taking care of infants for the preschool addition.

During their monthly meeting on Thursday, April 13, the Dolores School Board officially approved the Teddy Bear Preschool’s new infant and toddler program, set to start in August.

The board has been considering the prospect of offering infant and toddler care since early this year, and in March, preschool director Valiena Rosenkrance announced her plan to build a facility for the purpose with the help of grants from the Buell Foundation and other sources.

On April 13, she said the preschool had received a total of $23,000 in grants, about $2,000 less than what they applied for, but enough to allow them to move forward. She asked the board to give their official support to the program, which they did in a unanimous vote.

The infant-toddler center is scheduled to open at the beginning of the next school year on Aug. 22, and it will cost $38 per day.

It has 16 spots available, and they are filling up fast. Osprey Packs Inc., whose request to have their Industrial Park headquarters rezoned to allow day care was shot down by the Cortez planning and zoning board earlier this month, has already asked to secure two or three spots in both the infant and toddler categories, Rosenkrance said.

“We’re going to be full before we even break ground,” she said.

Superintendent Scott Cooper said the idea for the program came from a desire to keep several teachers in the district who had small children, and that it “snowballed” from there.

“We were concerned we were going to lose several teachers – at least three, and maybe more – because there’s no child care,” he said.

But Rosenkrance said Dolores School employees hoping to take advantage of the day care would have to pay the same tuition as anyone else.

She said she hoped the grants, tuition and volunteer work from the community would keep the program from “(becoming) a drain on the district.”

She said the plan is to break ground on the infant and toddler facility at the beginning of June. This year, it will follow the Dolores School District calendar, but she said the preschool will consider keeping it open for the summer if there’s enough demand.

The board voted 5-0 to approve the infant and toddler program, and Cooper commended Rosenkrance for her quick work on planning it.