Mountain View Voice

News - February 4, 2011

Los Altos preschool finds new home

Long-standing co-op losing site at LAHS finds space at Covington Elementary

by Nick Veronin

The generations-old Los Altos Parent Preschool will not be shutting its doors this June, as many feared. Instead, the pre-kindergarten cooperative will be moving about one mile south, from Los Altos High School to Covington Elementary School, an official from the preschool said.

On Jan. 28, the preschool signed a joint-lease agreement with the Los Altos School District, which is renewable every 5 years up, to 15 years. The new arrangement was met with enthusiasm by the preschool and other local education officials.

"It's a huge relief," said Dara Tynefield, board president emeritus of the preschool. "It's super, super exciting."

A little over six months ago, things did not look good for Tynfield and her colleagues at the cooperative preschool, where parents volunteer one day each week in exchange for tuition rates that are much lower than private preschools. The Mountain View-Los Altos Union High School District had decided to terminate the preschool's lease to make way for an anticipated 25-percent growth in high school students over the next 10 years.

Despite numerous pleas made by Tynefield and other supporters of the preschool, the district's board of trustees said there was no other option but to discontinue its joint-lease agreement.

Joe White, superintendent of business services for the high school district, said that Los Altos High School can expect about 450 additional students by 2020, and that the district would like to use the 15,000 square feet now occupied by the preschool to accommodate that growth.

Tynefield reminded the high school district's board of trustees on multiple occasions that Parent Preschool, established in 1954, not only provides affordable education for tots, but is also an asset to the Mountain View-Los Altos Adult Education program. Parents who volunteer learn about child development and may earn adult school credit for their efforts.

Barry Groves, superintendent of Mountain View-Los Altos, said he was happy to see that the preschool found a home within his district's boundaries. Groves said he anticipates that the district will continue to support the program as a part the adult school.

"It's a quality program," Groves said of the preschool. "We're thrilled that they've been able to find a new home."

Randy Kenyon, assistant superintendent of business services for the Los Altos School District, said that signing the joint-lease agreement with the preschool is a "win-win."

Although his district, like Mountain View-Los Altos, is pressed for space, Kenyon said he is happy to be able to both support the Parent Preschool and continue to generate a revenue stream for the Los Altos School District by leasing the space, which was recently vacated by another preschool.

Parent Preschool will pay $25,000 per year for the space, $10,000 more than it paid for its quarters on the Los Altos High School campus.

Still, Tynefield said, the preschool will be able to offer tuition far lower than its commercial competitors.

And that makes her happy. "To finally land someplace where we are being supported in that way is great," she said.

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