Photos courtesy Curiosity Corner School
Curiosity Corner School, a nonprofit for ages 12 months to five years, has been open in Burien since 1985, It may have to close in January if public and civic help does not step foreword.

After 28 years Curiosity Corner School may close due to govt. program cuts & high overhead

The Curiosity Corner School, a Burien, well, cornerstone, since 1985 in its various incarnations, held a board meeting last week and after crunching the numbers acknowledged that unfortunately the numbers were crunching them. Disgruntled parents of disappointed kids ages one to five may have to make other arrangements.

"A Christmas miracle would have been a perfect scenario for us," said Director, Burien-raised Laurie Sanderson. "We just want to get the word out that closing is a real possibility and all the services we've provided for all these kiddos throughout the years may end. It is definitely heartbreaking to know that it might not go on.

"I've got lots of parents who have more than one child here, a toddler and preschooler," she said. About 37 students attend. "The hardest thing is listening to parents when we tell them the news. Once they have their kids here for a while they feel safe there and don't want to leave. I've had students whose parents attended Curiosity Corner School when they were kids in our after-school daycare program when we accepted kids through age 12."

"The nonprofit school was started as a preschool program at the church across the street from Mount View Elementary School, founded by Carol Dotson and Kathryn Wahlborg," said Sanderson, who has been there for 12 years. The founders recently retired.

The school moved to 1015 SW 128th St. in 1996 adding part time child care, then later taking on full time. Head Start came in and took over a few programs.

After eight months of preparing their new, current location, 1st Ave. S. and SW 156th St. with paid contractors and the assistance of volunteer staff on weekends, parents, and friends, they moved in last March. The overhead was rough as they were paying the two rents and utilities for those eight months while putting funds into the new space. Also, some government funding fell off due to cutbacks in the economy.

Chelsea McMasters of Burien has been a board member of the school for a year. An employee with the U.S. Bank in the Alaska Junction in West Seattle, her daughter Chloe, almost 4, attends Curiosity Corner School, but doesn't know that this might be her last month or two. Chloe's mom recalls the staff making her daughter and her feel welcome.

"It felt like home the minute we walked in the door," Chelsea recalled. "They maintained that feeling and that's why we stuck around. It will break Chloe's heart. She doesn't know that they're closing yet.

"The emotion here is sadness for a community of such wonderful educators and such wonderful children to be split apart, and also the loss for the community is what's so heartbreaking," she said. "This childcare center is going above and beyond (to shape) the future citizens of the Burien area. These kids are learning skills and getting love unique to this school.

"My child is excited to go and she has come home with all kinds of new capabilities like writing," Chelsea added. "But they also teach the kids skills about being good community members. The expectations of the kids is that they take care of their own areas as far as throwing things away, cleaning after themselves. They feel good, being responsible, taking care of their things. The teachers go out of their way to teach the kids to be respectful of one another's differences."

While it may be a bit late for a "Christmas miracle", the school encourages the public, educational agencies and other governmental organizations to get involved to save the school.

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