Thursday, August 20, 2009

OC Register Article - Commitment and Twitter save preschool

Commitment and Twitter save preschool

Parents rally at HOA board meeting and convince board to let the Lakeview Learning Center live.
The Orange County Register

LAKE FOREST – The commitment and passion of parents and teachers of one of South County's oldest preschools convinced a local homeowners association board to let the school live.

On Wednesday night, the five-member Lake I Homeowners Association Board voted to allow the Lakeview Learning Center to stay open despite earlier plans to shutter the nationally accredited, private preschool.

"The preschool faces many challenges in the coming weeks and months, but the board was swayed by the outpouring of public support and the commitment of our homeowners to solving the problems confronting us," said Jim Gardner, board president. "People are our most important asset. Our members promised to work hard and help solve the many problems confronting us. We had to listen to them and give them the chance."

The parents agreed to form a parent committee to develop a long-term plan that protects the viability of the preschool. The committee will coordinate fundraising activities to eliminate the financial impact of the school on the association in 2009 and 2010. They will support the LFCA staff in their efforts to manage the preschool and they will submit a long-term business plan for review and approval by the board in their January 2010 meeting.

"It was amazing," said Pete Deutschman, a parent who launched a massive online Twitter and blog campaign last week. "It was like a scene out of a movie. It was standing room only. I was really proud of the parents. Everyone took the high road and spoke from the heart. Everyone from the board listened and realized how important the preschool is to the community."

Deutschman first learned of the school's planned closure last week when his daughter, Chloe, 3, brought home a letter saying the school would be close on Aug. 28.

Within 24 hours Deutschman launched an online campaign spreading the word to other educators, community members and South County residents. The parents also held a rally Tuesday night raising awareness along Ridge Route and Muirlands Boulevard.

The board notified the preschool director of the closure on Aug. 7 but parents only received letters with refunds last week. The association sent a second letter to parents and school staff on Monday citing reasons for the closure. They included lack of use, financial loss, a building that needs repair and insurance risk, which threatens the renewal of the HOA's entire policy.

"I actually thanked the board for closing the preschool," said Deutschman. "They have put a spotlight on this little gem. The teachers have never felt so appreciated."

The preschool, which also draws children from neighboring cities, is open to potty-trained children aged 3 -5. Information: 949-837-6100, ext. 134.

Contact the writer: 949-454-7307 or

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