St. Paul's Cooperative Preschool seeks new home
St. Paul's Cooperative Preschool (SPCP) is about to lose its home of 61 years. St. Paul’s Episcopal Church, that built the nursery school wing in 1956, has decided, as of Nov. 29, not to renew the preschool’s lease. Now, the cooperative is faced with the challenge of finding a new home for next year so that it can continue to serve its students. The co-op currently has 54 of its 58 possible student spaces filled. SPCP is rushing to find a place before January, when preschool registration begins for the 2018–19 school year.
SPCP’s top priority is to continue to offer affordable preschool access for the 2018–19 school year. "We are looking for a space, ideally located close to the current location [2747 Fairmount Blvd.] so that we can continue to serve the local community’s families and children," said Deb Binkofsky, director of the co-op."Research continues to come out about how important preschool can be for future academic success. If we were to close, which we are determined not to do, that would leave Cleveland Heights with just one cooperative preschool.” That school, Fairmount Cooperative Preschool, is currently at capacity, serving 44 students.
Already this year, two nearby preschools have closed their doors. Both Parents’ Day Out Preschool in nearby Shaker Heights and The Church of the Saviour Co-Operative Preschool closed in May. Both of these preschools were secular, like SPCP, and located on church properties.
A cooperative preschool is unique in that it relies on families to run the school alongside a professional teaching staff. A benefit of a co-op is that tuition is typically lower than at other [types of] preschools, largely because of family participation. SPCP fosters a sense of community for its participants, as families support teaching staff in the classroom during the school day, act as custodians, repair and maintain the school grounds, supply classroom materials, and fundraise throughout the year. SPCP parents also have the opportunity to be on a parent board that helps make decisions for the co-op.
The role played by churches in the secular preschools run on their properties is a significant one. Over the years, St. Paul's Episcopal Church has been a generous partner with SPCP, helping keep costs down by charging a modest rent and providing amenities such as heat, water, and trash removal services for no additional cost. This has benefited thousands of families and their children during the 61-year relationship.
SPCP's board, parents and staff are hoping for grace from St. Paul’s church in the form of one more year in its current building so that SPCP can continue to serve families while they search for a new location. They also are seeking information about potential spaces for the school’s new location, and strongly prefer to remain in the Cleveland Heights area. If you have any relevant information, contact Deb Binkofsky at 216-932-0002.
Emily Lampe is an education consultant and parent who has been a resident of Cleveland Heights since 2013. She currently has a child enrolled at St. Paul's Cooperative Preschool.