Little Red plans to break ground this fall |

Little Red plans to break ground this fall

Little Red School instructor Kristin Pia and Autumn Rose Ward walk on the site of the new school site.

BRECKENRIDGE – Little Red Schoolhouse officials still hope to pour a foundation for a new daycare center in French Gulch this fall, even though fundraising efforts have reaped less than half the estimated $975,000 needed to construct the building.

“This has not been a successful fundraiser,” said Mayor Sam Mamula, in reference to the difficulties the preschool’s board has had in raising money. “The ski area, the town and the Summit Foundation have been the only contributors.”

So far, Little Red Schoolhouse officials have raised about $25,000 in various fundraisers.

Lance Radar, developer of Vista Point, donated the land for the school. The ski area and town of Breckenridge have chipped in $200,000 and the Summit Foundation, $75,000.

Other donations have totaled almost $10,000, said Executive Director Alison Earnest. Another $33,000 the town originally granted to the nonprofit center to add onto the existing building on French Street is now designated for the new center.

Additionally, Little Red officials have applied for a low-interest loan from the federal Rural Development Assistance Program, have asked the Summit Foundation for another $75,000 and are soliciting money from eight other foundations, Earnest said.

Board members anticipate they will have about half the money – up to $480,000 – promised or raised by December.

Yet, they still anticipate a $245,000 shortfall and have asked the town council to consider setting aside funds in its 2004 budget to close that gap. Councilmembers, however, said they’re not sure how much they might be able to contribute in light of declining tax revenues this year.

The board has faced numerous challenges in raising the money, including a weak economy and the subsequent tendency for normally generous donors to tighten their purse strings.

“It’s been hard,” Earnest said. “The economy has a great deal to do with it. And at the same time, we have to fundraise for the current facility. We have to maintain operations here.”

Board members plan to talk to the town council next week, updating it on fundraising efforts and plans and asking it again to consider setting aside funds for the school in next year’s budget.

“We have had a great response from the community; it’s been great to see some of these efforts blossom,” said Little Red board president Jeff Huntley. “But the money’s coming in in the hundreds and thousands, and there’s still the need for tens of hundreds of thousands.”

Like other nonprofits, Little Red Schoolhouse also competes with other groups for limited funding in the county.

“We all have to fundraise, and people are constantly hit up for donations and funding,” Earnest said. “It makes it difficult on the community to have to support all the organizations. The community does what they can, but they can only afford so much. And you can only ask for so much.”

Town council members noted the challenges Little Red officials face, especially when compared to the efforts that went into raising funds and building the Carriage House preschool on Airport Road.

In that case, the town of Breckenridge donated the land, and parents and daycare advocates aggressively pursued finding funds.

In Little Red’s case, town officials, recognizing the need for more daycare in the area, selected Little Red to fundraise, build and operate a new facility.

“We were going to build an infant/toddler center three years ago, and we were asked to put it on hold by the town,” Huntley said. “They asked us to help them achieve a bigger solution.”

The Montessori school – and many parents in the community – need the new facility. The 130 children on its waiting list have to wait up to two years for a slot to open up, Earnest said. The French Street school is licensed for only 30 children. The new school will be licensed for 80 children, 30 of which can be infants and toddlers.

The building is being designed by Baker Hogan Houx Architects, engineering will be provided by Tetra Tech and the school board is interviewing contractors in hopes of beginning construction next spring.

Jane Stebbins can be reached at (970) 668-3998, ext. 228, or

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