Last updated 8:07AM ET
December 13, 2017
KSUT Regional
KSUT Regional
Early Learning Center Celebrates Purchase
(2007-09-12)
(ksut) - HOST LEAD: A celebration being held tonight at the Durango Early Learning Center will mark more than the center's purchase of the building it now occupies.
It will mean the badly needed care the center provides for dozens of area children, will be secured for years to come.
KSUT's Victor Locke reports.

LACH: I DON'T THINK IT'S SUNK IN YET, EVERY NOW AND THEN I GET A FLURRY OF EXCITEMENT, AND THEN I GET A FLURRY OF PANIC BECAUSE IT'S LIKE WOOO, IF THE ROOF CAVES IN WE'VE GOT TO DEAL WITH IT.
As Executive Director of the Durango Early Learning Center, the first priority of Lesley Lach, no relation, is to the 60-or so students the center serves each day.
She often greets students and their parents as they arrive each morning.
Lach arrived four years ago as director of the non profit school, which has operated since its founding 30-years ago out of a large rented building spread across four lots in Old Durango, at the corner of East Third Avenue, and 9th Street.
LACH: AND I REALLY LOVE THIS SCHOOL, IT'S SO SPECIAL AND I REALLY WANT IT TO BE HERE ANOTHER 30-YEARS, SO I SAID TO THE BOARD WE REALLY GOT TO TRY AND BUY IT, SO THAT'S WHAT WE DID, WE BOUGHT IT.
Buying the school has been another of Lach's priorities.
For the past three years they've conducted fund raisers.
And this summer, the Durango city manager's office secured a 450-thousand dollar community development block grant, to help them reach the 650-thousand dollar purchase price.
They closed on the deal last month.
That means the place Lindsey Nicholson takes her daughter Kelsey each day for care is now secure to continue serving the community.
NICHOLSON: IT'S WONDERFUL, IT'S JUST A SUPER, CARING AND LOVING ENVIRONMENT AND THE TEACHERS ARE ALL REALLY ENTHUSIASTIC AND JUST KEEP THEM WELL ENTERTAINED AND THEY JUST LOVE COMING HERE, SO IT'S A GREAT PLACE.
The need for quality child care is great in Durango, especially for infants, who aren't served by the center.
The Early Childhood Council of La Plata County estimates as many as 700 infants locally may not be receiving the proper care.
Lach, says in her four years at the center, she's seen growing demand for quality day care in Durango.
LACH: THE QUERIES FOR A PLACE FOR THEIR CHILDREN HAS GROWN, I TAKE ABOUT SEVEN PHONE CALLS A DAY. OUR WAITLIST IS ABOUT A YEAR AND A HALF LONG AND IT'S THE SAME I BELIEVE FOR MOST EARLY YEARS CENTERS IN DURANGO. MY PERSONAL BELIEF IS AS DURANGO GROWS AND DEVELOPS WE NEED SOMEWHERE TO ACCOMODATE THE CHILDREN, SO TO HAVE A GOOD WORK FORCE TO SUSTAIN THE COMMUNITY, WE NEED TO HAVE QUALITY CARE FOR THE CHILDREN SO THE PARENTS CAN WORK, AND I DON'T THINK THAT'S GROWN AS QUICKLY AS EVERYTHING ELSE.
Lach says right now there aren't plans to expand services offered by the Early Learning Center.
Their first priority is upkeep of their present facility.
And she says finding qualified teachers and providing them with a livable wage and benefits, is another challenge posed by expanding.
As Lach cradles Kelsey in her arms, however, she says at least for now, she, her staff and the families they serve can rest easier that the Durango Early Learning Center will be around providing services for a long time.
LACH: WHEN I'M PUSHING UP THE DAISIES OR SITTING IN MY DECK CHAIR DRINKING MARGARITAS, THIS SCHOOL IS STILL GOING TO BE HERE, FOR LITTLE KELSEY'S GRAND CHILDREN POSSIBLY, SO THAT'S WHAT'S EXCITING.
From KSUT, Four Corners Public Radio, I'm Victor Locke.
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