Healdsburg Community Nursery School is facing a dire financial situation.
According to Board Member Darren Turbeville, the nursery school had less than $300 to its name when he and his wife joined the board this summer.
“We couldn’t pay our staff for July and August,” Turbeville said. “We need an enrollment of about 18 to provide the salaries we were able to provide to our director and our teacher.”
The school has 10 students enrolled. Turbeville said a few parents were trying to pay a year in advance to boost operating funds. The nursery school operates on the public school calendar.
Turbeville said last year’s board had gotten the nursery school in the situation and also said he was too hands off.
The school is funded by tuition and two fundraising events — a cookie sale partnering with Costeaux Bakery and an online auction with items supplied by donors. The auction happens the first week of December and normally has brought in $7,000 to $15,000. Last year was a little under $11,000.
The school operates on 1st Street adjacent to Healdsburg Elementary School and leases the building from the school for $1 a year, Turbeville said.
“I’m a little perplexed as to why the school hasn’t had better finances, so we’re trying to make little bit of an effort to bring back the rainy day fund and bring back some savings and really try to bring enrollment up,” he said.
Turbeville said the nursery school uses play based education.
“Everything kids learn is through role playing. So, we have a lot of costume play. We have a little kitchen for kids to play in,” he said. “Once a week, we’ll bring a musician in to entertain the kids.”
He said kids also use games to learn things like the months in a calendar and other early education standards. There are also weekly field trips to pumpkin patches or a fish hatchery or other seasonal things.
“You can’t get a 3-year-old to memorize anything,” Turbeville said.
He added that the education has an old-fashioned feel to it, as students cook their own snacks — with supervision — and learn other independence skills.
The school is operated as a co-op, so parents are encouraged to come in to help out with the school.
“I enjoy my one day a week in class with my son,” he said. “It’s a good way to meet your son’s friends, get a good way of how they interact.”
The school is governed by a five-member board, with at least one member of the public who is not a parent.