Funding cuts forced tough decision at Leahy-Holloran center

To the Editor:

As news of changes at the Leahy-Holloran Community Center Preschool reaches the community, we are compelled to provide a summary of the circumstances which have made these changes necessary.

Two years ago, the city of Boston cut funding for all preschools run by Boston Center for Youth and Families (BCYF). We, the Leahy-Holloran Community Center Council (LHCCC), met with city officials with the objective of securing funding. Despite our efforts, the city held its ground, and it was made clear that the funding model through which we functioned was a thing of the past.

Collaboratively, the city and the LHCCC worked to develop a plan to prevent the immediate closure of the preschool. For the past two years, the LHCCC has been subsidizing the cost of running the preschool. This deal saved and extended the life of the preschool. When we structured and accepted the financial responsibilities of the agreement, we feared that it may have been a short-term solution, but it was better than the alternative of losing the preschool at the end of fiscal year 2009/2010. The hope was that significant fundraising combined with vigilant fiscal responsibility could minimize the financial burden of the plan for the first two years, and that additional funding could be found by year three.

While we have been successful in managing the cash flow involved in running the preschool, no hidden moneys or grants that meet our needs have been found. Therefore, as we approach the third year of this agreement, we are forced to adjust the current financial model at the end of this school year.

In the next two fiscal years, the LHCCC would be responsible for for paying approximately $200,000 to the city, after which time the preschool staff would still be terminated or reassigned by the city. The LHCCC was tasked with weighing the risks and benefits of continuing with such a large financial commitment that would ultimately only “borrow” the preschool staff for two more years versus the risks and benefits of creating a viable preschool model that can be sustained and serve our community in the long-term. The LHCCC chose the latter as the path forward given the LHCC mission and resources.

This difficult decision was not made lightly for we are mindful of its ramifications for those who have served and been served by the preschool. The LHCCC is committed to developing a preschool model that will be self-sustaining and that will continue to provide our community with the very best in early education. As a volunteerorganization dedicated to preserving a neighborhood and community center, we are eager work with both to map a future for the LHCC preschool.

– The Leahy-Holloran Community Center Council