Displaced nonprofit organizations faced their own tough options this summer following the closure of Sequim Community School.
Head Start, Women, Infants and Children (WIC), Snap (now called Mosaic), First Teacher and Peninsula College’s GED and English Language Learners have relocated their programming and either expanded, consolidated or ceased some operations.
With a high demand for space, and limited mobility options after 5 p.m., Mosaic, a community classroom for people with intellectual and developmental disabilities, splits classroom time between the Living Skills classroom at Sequim High School, Olympic Theatre Arts and Holy Trinity Lutheran Church in Port Angeles. It has expanded programming to four days and added more classes.
Instructor Bonne Smith said they’ve begun to increase their class attendance by including Port Angeles.
“It’s been a slow trickle but regular folks are supporters and still showing up,” she said. “Some are impacted due to the increased cost of transportation and if they live outside of the bus route with Paratransit, they can’t make it.”
Students miss the community school, Smith said, but everyone wants to go forward.
The biggest change for students other than location is that they pay about $2 an hour for programming.
“We feel bad that in the past we almost wholly supported participation, but we feel this is a deal,” Smith said.
The organization pays a nominal fee for hourly classes at the church and receives free office space.
For monthly dances, Olympic Vineyard Christian Fellowship in Port Angeles donates space for free, too.
First Teacher, a parenting education support center for young families, moved into the Sequim Boys & Girls Club, 400 W. Fir St., at the beginning of the school year.
Dr. Cynthia Martin, founder of First Teacher, said during the search for a new location she spoke with the club’s executive director Mary Budke about their options.
“I didn’t think they’d have room for us, but they aren’t busy during the day,” Martin said.
“While it doesn’t have our playground at least there’s a room for parents to meet and keep the program going.”
Martin said since the move attendance has grown.
For now, First Teacher meets 9:30 a.m.-11:30 a.m. Mondays and 9 a.m.-11 a.m. Fridays. For more information, call 681-2250 or visit www.firstteacher.org.
Instructors are doing their best to let potential students know Peninsula College’s GED and ESL classes are continuing in Sequim. Evelyn Short, dean of basic skills for Peninsula College, said they have put up fliers around town to get the word out because some people don’t think classes are offered in town.
Prior to the school closure, nearly 60 students were using the community school as much as 36 hours a week, she said.
The classes have relocated to the corner of Sequim Avenue and Spruce Street and plan to host an open house once they receive signage. Enrollment is open anytime through the semester and GED and basic skills classes are offered 8 a.m.-noon; ESL from 1-3:30 p.m. and 5:30-8 p.m. Mondays-Thursdays. For more information, call 683-5023 or 417-6380.
A combination of changing facilities and budget constraints led OlyCAP to stop its day care services and consolidate its preschool program for children ages 3-5 into a portable building and the Early Head Start, ages birth to age 3, operates out of families’ homes.
Janet Anderson, OlyCAP chief operating officer, said it was hard to find spaces available that could be modified for early childhood development, so they added preschool classrooms to Head Start’s portable building.
“It’s been very challenging,” Anderson said. “The impetuous was with the change of the facility but with child care it’s not just the facility but bigger state issues.”
A policy council consisting mostly of parents with enrolled children, and later OlyCAP’s board of directors voted for the change.
Anderson isn’t sure if Head Start will pursue child care again soon due to potential federal budget cuts that could trickle down locally.
“It sounds like things are looking up, but child care has been such a pinball for the last five years we have to be cautious for getting back into that water,” she said.
Anderson added things are looking up though for the preschool program with full enrollment and a few students on the waiting list.
For more information on Sequim Head Start, 226 N. Sequim Ave., call 582-5700 or 582-3713.
Women, Infants and Children continues to operate 9 a.m.-11:30 a.m. and 1-3 p.m. Tuesdays at the Sequim Food Bank, 144 W. Alder St.
It offers free nutritious foods, information on healthy eating and health care referrals for Washington residents, pregnant women and women with children under 5 who meet certain financial guidelines and have a medical/nutritional need.
WIC is offered through the Clallam County Health & Human Services and is available in-person only at this time.