Mancos Early Childhood Learning Center

By Malia Durbano

Many people and organizations came together to bring the Mancos Early Childhood Learning Center to fruition. Ken Charles, with the Colorado Department of Local Affairs, read about the proposed center in the Mancos Times. He contacted Brian Hanson, Superintendent of Schools for the Mancos School District and encouraged him to apply for a Community Development Block Grant to build the school. The grant comes from HUD, the Department of Housing and Urban Development.

Since the School District is not eligible to apply for the grant, the town decided to apply for the grant. To qualify for the grant, 51% of the students served by the school must come from low and moderate income families.

To apply for the grant, the Early Childhood Learning Center needed a business plan. Charles referred Hanson to Joe Keck at the SBDC for help with grant writing. Joe Keck, recommended Theresa Malone to write the grant for the School District. Malone recognized the Early Childhood Learning Center as a need in the community, conducted lots of research to support that fact and to determine the feasibility of the Center to become a viable and profitable business venture. “I ran the numbers and believed it would work. This Center is a good fit for lots of families in the community. We got the grant for the capital to build the building,” explains Malone.

Susan Doudy, Business Manager for the Mancos School District, provided the numbers that were needed for the business plan and the grant application. Doudy clarified, “I provided estimated numbers on the overhead, the history of the pupils in the District and other financial projections.”

Collaborators in the effort included the town of Mancos, the School District, Tri-County Head Start and the SBDC.

Construction was completed on the facility, next to the Elementary School on Grand Avenue and the new school opened in January of 2013. Brian Hanson explains, “The grant paid for half the cost of building construction. The Mancos School District took the other half out of our beginning fund balance.” Pearlie Chadwick, the director of the Pre-School, oversees the two classrooms and school for approximately 32 students, ranging in age from three to five years. The Early Learning Center prepares the students for Kindergarten.

Three funding sources were used to accomplish the project, Head Start, Colorado Pre-School Program and Private Pay Tuition. This is a great example of how combing talents, knowledge and cooperation can achieve great things for a community. Kudos to all who participated in making the project a success and a win-win for the children, their families and the School District.

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