Papermill preschool faces crisis

04/26/2012

The Papermill Creek Children’s Corner, Point Reyes Station’s preschool since 1972, is in serious financial trouble. In addition to a crippling amount of back debt, the low-budget nonprofit is facing surging insurance rates, a decreased enrollment, cut community grants, and lower private donations owing to the depressed economy.

“The Papermill is needing the community to step in and help support its institution,” said director Judy Radiloff.

The school’s fiscal crisis is magnified by the pending resignation of Radiloff, who is leaving at the end of June to complete her dissertation work. Radiloff was hired as the school’s head teacher in December 2008 and as director in June 2009; she has been filling both slots, as well as making other sacrifices, including delaying her own pay, in a prolonged effort to keep the school afloat. 

She said the school has been recognized recently by the early childhood development community. “The irony is there’s a lot of positives,” she said. “It’s a wonderful program—it’s just struggling financially.”

Of the school’s $170,000 annual operating budget, tuition fees account for approximately 80 percent. It’s the remaining 20 percent, Radiloff said, that is suffering. A few years ago the preschool, which provides a high number of scholarships to low-income families, lost a $3,000 a month county grant, and the school has been receiving less donated money in response to solicitation letters.

Adding to the woes, Papermill was recently forced to pay an $1,800 DeCarli’s bill. “We’ve been such a shoestring budget that anything like that really affects us,” Radiloff said.

She added that the board is working to come up with a creative solution to make the school sustainable, including the possibility of being absorbed by a larger local organization.