On the evening of Sunday, Nov. 20, Jeanne McDaniel, lead teacher at Waupaca Preschool, received a phone call that there was possibly a fire at the Central School.
Located at 515 School St., the building provides space for district administrative offices and rents space to the preschool.
“I was in shock,” McDaniel said. “My first thought was, the preschool is gone.”
Although the fire was located in the basement directly below the preschool, the preschool room and items were spared.
The volunteer Board of Directors quickly started making arrangements to relocate the preschool in order to get back up and running as soon as possible.
“Waupaca Preschool has been a part of this community for over thirty years and currently serves 46 families,” board treasurer Julie Bogard said. “Closing it was not an option.”
The preschool contacted First United Methodist Church to inquire about renting the old Sunny Day Daycare location.
“The church and pastor were so accommodating,” said Preschool board president, Megan Koehler. “They moved quickly to help us out and did whatever they could to make the transition easier.”
The preschool will finish out the 2011-12 school year in this location.
Although none of the preschool’s items or property were damaged by the fire, the preschool was unable and unwilling to move any of those items to the new location.
“We have been unable to enter the building due to asbestos contamination and are working with several companies to determine the possibility of cleaning items. Safety is the number one concern for our students and we will not move anything to the new location unless we are certain it is safe. We anticipate that the majority of our items will be disposed of as the cost of cleaning will outweigh the cost of replacing them,” Koehler said.
Due to the the Thanksgiving holiday, Waupaca Preschool was only closed for seven days and reopened in the new location on Monday, Dec. 5. There were many requirements stipulated by the state in order to reopen and the board moved to meet them.
Since nothing was taken from the old location, the preschool relied on donations from parents and local businesses and purchased what was needed to get started. Koehler said, “There are many meetings to be had and decisions to be made as a result of the fire, but I am confident that Waupaca Preschool will remain a fixture in the community for years to come.”
Waupaca Preschool staff and board members said they appreciate the help they received from First United Methodist Church, the Waupaca Area Public Library’s Youth Department and The Childcare Resource and Referral of Menasha.
Anyone wanting to donate items to the preschool can call 715-256-1388 or may make a financial donation at First National Bank. Waupaca Preschool remains a licensed, non-profit preschool serving children ages 3-5 from September through May.