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Parents rally to save school

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Montessori purchased to keep it operating

By Carol A. Clark

Parents went into panic mode May 14 when Ponderosa Montessori School announced its doors would close two weeks later, displacing 60 children.

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With summer looming, parents scrambled to find alternatives. They quickly discovered that organizations in the community were only able to absorb nine children – leaving 51children with no place to go during the day.

Repeated attempts by the Monitor to speak with school officials about the situation were declined.

“Owner Joan Ellard was ill and a plan to transition the school to someone else didn’t work out so Joan had to close,” said new owner Sharon Seitz during an interview Wednesday. “So essentially I’ve been trying to work on a seamless path forward. Our goal was to be open June 3 for the summer session and we did it, which I consider a huge success. I am just amazed that the teachers hung in there – I don’t know about you but I don’t think if I was given two weeks notice that I would hang in there.”

Ponderosa has eight teachers. There are currently 32 students enrolled, Seitz said.

“Forty had originally signed up for summer and I think more people will come back as they hear we are open,” she said.

Ponderosa Montessori has had two previous owners, Kirk and Joan Ellard and David and Jennifer Hayden.

The new owners have formed Ponderosa Montessori, Inc., which Seitz said intends to continue the Hayden’s and Ellard’s legacy of maintaining a “true Montessori school,” adding that the Ellards and Haydens both support this new endeavor. “The Ellards are donating a substantial amount of property, both educational and business, to help start the new initiative, she said, and the Haydens are donating two months free rent.

“We really appreciate their support and we really need more donations because we’re starting from zero and we need to raise $39,500 to make this seamless transition a complete success, Seitz said. So far we have raised $11,000. We’ve set up a ‘Friends of Ponderosa Montessori’ account for tax-deductible donations.

These funds will go toward transition and start up costs such as attorneys, accountants, inspections, licenses and other similar activities.”

Ponderosa Montessori, at 304 Rover Blvd., accommodates children ages 2-12 in the summer sessions and ages 2-9 in the fall. Enrollment is currently being accepted for the second and third summer sessions as well as the fall session.

For information and to register, call 672-9211 or visit http://ponderosa

montessori.com.