CEDAR RAPIDS — A preschool that was on the brink of leaving a southwest Cedar Rapids neighborhood where there are few other early education options will remain in the area after all.
With Trinity Lane Preschool’s building up for sale, the school of about 65 2-, 3- and 4-year-olds had been searching for a new space for months.
In January, directors of the Methodist preschool finalized plans to move into three classrooms in the St. Ludmila academic center, a Catholic school about a mile south of Trinity Lane’s current location.
In a Hail Mary move, the agreement came together just weeks before preschool registration opens Monday. If missed, that deadline would have prompted parents and staff to begin looking for other schools elsewhere.
The creation of Trinity Lane’s partnership with St. Ludmila seemed almost divine, said Carolyn Barnes, the preschool’s director.
“If we had known that this was waiting for us, we wouldn’t have had so many emotional ups and downs,” she said. “We could have relaxed a little bit. It’s just been really awesome the way everything just fell together.”
Trinity Lane Preschool’s search for a new, adequate space was a struggle partly because many of its students come from low-income families, said Paul Wilcox, a pastor for Lovely Lane United Methodist Church, which operates the preschool.
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“That’s always been, actually, the sticking point,” Wilcox said. “What kind of people will be here, and will they make good church members, how much money will they bring to our organization, and those kinds of questions.”
In a given school year, between 50 and 75 percent of Trinity Lane Preschool students qualify for income-based tuition, and the preschool regularly supplements about $13,000 in tuition per year for its students.
St. Ludmila Church viewed Trinity Lane’s focus on providing early education services to children who otherwise might not have access as an asset. That was “just a godsend,” Wilcox said.
“We were very impressed with their mission and what they offer for these 2-, 3- and 4-year-olds, so we thought it would be great extension of what we already do with our Catholic school system,” said Ken Glaser, a priest at St. Ludmila. “They truly reach out and administer to children that are on the margins.”
Students at St. Ludmila school are set to consolidate with students at St. Jude, another school in the Holy Family Catholic School System. The consolidation is due to falling enrollment in the system, Glaser said.
Glaser said his parish had been looking for a way to use the emptying space when Barnes called him to ask if Trinity Lane could rent any rooms from the church.
For Trinity Lane, the impending move is not only a relief, but a blessing — students and staff soon will have much more space than they do in their current space, at 400 Third Ave. SW.
“God closed a door, but God didn’t open a window,” Wilcox said. “God opened up, like, a double-door (with) the possibilities in this place.”
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The preschool will move into classrooms on the ground floor of St. Ludmila’s building over the summer, and Trinity Lane site director Dawn DuPont said there could be opportunities to expand the school later.
St. Ludmila will continue to host religious education classes and bingo in the school building, Glaser said, as well as the church’s annual Kolach Festival and other bake sales.
After spending months trying to secure a space in another Methodist church, Wilcox said he’s pleased to have found a new partner in a Catholic parish.
“We tend to go in our own little circles, and we spend a lot of time trying to find a place within our own ecclesiastical church circles. But here, it came from outside all of that,” Wilcox said. “It has really opened my mind and heart to the way the spirit of God works — that crosses those boundaries we sometimes draw.”
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