Preschool gets lease extension
After hearing testimony from supporters of the Chilkat Valley Preschool Tuesday, the Haines Borough Assembly voted unanimously to extend the nonprofit’s lease of the Human Resources building until June 30, 2015.
The assembly voted at its previous meeting to terminate the preschool’s lease in June. The additional year will give the preschool board time to solidify plans for the program’s move out of the building, board members said Tuesday.
Board chair Alissa Henry asked the assembly to reconsider its previous decision and extend the lease until 2015 so the board can pursue grant funding for a modular classroom that would potentially be housed on borough property.
“In order to follow through with that (plan), we need more time,” Henry said.
Preschool teacher Janet Hayes told the assembly the board is grateful they have had the space for so long and that members understand the building is decrepit. “I do know we need to move on... but it does take time,” Hayes said.
Preschooler parent Brent Crowe also testified in favor of the lease extension, as did fourth-grade teacher Kristin White.
Takshanuk Watershed Council director Brad Ryan also urged the assembly to support the preschool by extending the lease and shared an anecdote about a recent Takshanuk Watershed Council job candidate who ultimately decided not to take the job because of Haines’ lack of educational infrastructure for her children.
Assembly member Joanne Waterman said the assembly supports the preschool program, but wants to see the board take responsibility for its future and a more proactive role in planning. Waterman said she sees the assembly having a “supportive” rather than a “solution” role.
Assembly member Dave Berry said children should be the assembly’s “first priority,” and that leaving them without enough time to find a proper space wouldn’t be in line with that priority. “We can’t put these people out on the street.”
When asked whether the human resources building could weather another 18 months of use, public facilities director Carlos Jimenez said he believed it could.
Though the building “isn’t in danger of imminent collapse,” Jimenez said he wouldn’t want to spend any money on it between now and the lease’s termination.
The assembly also voted Tuesday to remove the renewal clause from the lease.