Southern Ute Community Action Programs Head Start preschool has found a temporary home after asbestos was found in its old building.
For the rest of the school year, Head Start’s three preschool classrooms will be the Southern Ute Cultural Center and Museum.
The school unexpectedly closed in October when asbestos was found in the crawlspace of its old building, which was built in the 1930s by the Bureau of Indian Affairs.
“The kids are really happy just to be back in school,” said Head Start Director Charlene Schank. The new space has high ceilings and natural light. One room is divided into two for classes and a smaller classroom is nearby.
Because state laws require that all preschool classrooms have sinks, SUCAP installed pump sinks in the classrooms, said Eileen Wasserbach, SUCAP’s director. Head Start’s administration offices have moved upstairs in the museum, alongside museum administration. Head Start employs about 45 staff members.
Head Start typically serves about 95 families, or 140 children total, in the Ignacio area.
Head Start is still using its modular building near the old school. Infant and toddler day care is provided in those classrooms, which are across the street from the cultural center.
SUCAP has conducted a capital campaign for the past seven years to raise money for a new facility. The hard part is finding the land to purchase, Wasserbach said. About 2.5 acres are needed in or near Ignacio.
“We’ve really struggled to find the right place and raise the funds to get going,” she said.
Donations to SUCAP can be made at http://bit.ly/2zZw40H.
Donors can type “Head Start Building Fund” in the special instructions section.
Checks also can be mailed to SUCAP Inc., P.O. Box 800, Ignacio, CO 81137. “Head Start Building Fund” should be noted in the memo.
Schank and Wasserbach said SUCAP staff and parents are grateful to the Southern Ute Indian Tribe for allowing them to use the classrooms for the rest of the school year.
SUCAP was founded by the tribe in 1966 and became an independent entity a year later, although it still uses tribal facilities. SUCAP celebrated its 50th anniversary in Ignacio last year.
This story has been corrected. The fisrt name of the director of Head Start is Charlene Schank.