Neighborhood Learning Center of Niwot to close this May
January 25, 2018
A Niwot mainstay will be bidding farewell to the community when the Neighborhood Learning Center of Niwot closes its doors at the end of the school year. The property, located at 304 Franklin Street, is slated to be revamped for the care of four-pawed family members. The transition will mark the end of a Niwot-based preschool and daycare program, which has run for nearly 40 years on the site.
The building, first built as a church by what is now the Niwot United Methodist Church on Lookout Road, was later converted to accommodate a cognitively disabled residential program. At the time Kim and Alan Schwarz purchased the property in 1984, the building housed the Niwot Preschool. The Schwarzes renamed the business the Neighborhood Learning Center of Niwot.
Living on the upper floor of the building, the couple continued to work at their corporate jobs while managing the learning center until five years ago when they left their occupations and became more hands-on with the center. Now they are gearing up to officially retire from working life and make their new home Buena Vista, CO.
Closing the center will mean the staff of four full-time employees, two part-time employees, along with two volunteers will be moving on to new jobs and interests. “Some of the staff has already been offered other jobs, but not all are necessarily looking for new jobs.” Kim said. “There is a shortage of teachers in Boulder County and staff are evaluating what they would like to do going forward.”
Teachers Teresa Litman (an employee for 28 years), Cathy Kiyoto (20 years), and Cristina Maginot (9 years), along with Director Lori Freitas (10 years) will be moving on.
Part-time employees, cook/teacher’s aide, Emily Smith, who was a preschooler at the center, and the newest employee, teacher’s aide Stephanie Clusin, will both be continuing down the path to work with children by taking college classes in education.
Additionally, volunteers Helen Tromposh (at the center for 25 years) and Jean Teets (a retired teacher) will be saying goodbye to students.
Niwot Elementary School, Rocky Mountain Christian Church, and several in-home facilities serve the community with preschool programs. But, the closure of the Neighborhood Learning Center will leave a gap in childcare within Niwot.
Licensed to serve a maximum of 41 children, the school has averaged an enrollment of 35-40. During the school year the center has offered a Monday through Friday daycare and preschool program. A camp program ran in the summers and expanded to include elementary-age children who were out of school.
An effort is underway by the staff to find another site to keep the school open. “The families and the community are very interested in finding another preschool. Anyone who knows of property…we are willing to donate all of the center’s contents, equipment and materials needed to get it going,” Kim emphasized.
Owners of Left Hand Animal Hospital, Nancy Bureau and Katie Thomas, have announced that they are under contract and planning to close on the purchase of the learning center building this summer, pending approval from Boulder County. They have outgrown their current location at 136 Second Avenue in Niwot, and the learning center building will give them more space to accommodate their growing business.
The process to obtain Boulder County Special Use approval for the vet office to operate from the building is underway. Additionally, the interior and exterior of the building will be renovated to fit the needs of the animal hospital, but will retain the same look and feel of the current structure.
The Schwarz’s two children and two grandchildren attended the preschool. Kim said she and her husband had been considering their futures and selling the property “for a while, and have always loved Buena Vista.” They will live in Longmont while they build a house in Buena Vista.
“I have lots of mixed emotions” she said. “Of course, I will miss the kids and the families and the teachers the most. Preschoolers are the most adorable age.”