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Park City Co-op Preschool closing, city looking at other options

The Park City Cooperative Preschool first opened in 1987.
Anne Evans
The Park City Cooperative Preschool first opened in 1987. It has operated out of the Park City Library since the 1990s.

A local Park City daycare that’s been around for decades announced it is closing its doors.

The closure of the Park City Co-Op Preschool comes just a week after the Park City Council discussed a proposal to use taxpayer dollars to boost the local childcare industry, which is suffering from a lack of supply and affordability.

Board chair of the co-op, Anne Evans, said they didn’t come to the decision lightly.

“Our school, it’s always been a half-day program,” Evans said. “And parents have historically been required to volunteer in the classroom one day per month. And it’s a wonderful experience, but it’s also very time consuming.”

Outside of parent volunteers, the co-op had just two staff teachers.

The preschool currently serves a total of 19 families, with kids ages 3 to 5. It’s a half-day program running from 8:45 a.m. to 12:45 p.m., with extensions to 2:30 p.m. two days per week.

Enrollment has declined in recent years, starting around the on-set of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Evans said not having a full day schedule is what kept demand low, plus fewer families living in Old Town, and more families have both parents working, which makes it difficult for one parent to contribute to the co-op.

Heather Watts, the co-op treasurer, said the school served specific families.

“What I realized about our preschool is that it really served kind of a niche group in the community," Watts said. "You had to have at least one parent working at home, or one with a very flexible work schedule.”

The preschool has a lease at the library into 2027, but the Park City Council has an option to end the lease prematurely at its meeting next week.

City staff said they want to find a new childcare provider to take over the space before next school year, but that’s ultimately the council’s decision.

Watts said she supports finding a replacement, and also hopes city hall puts funding towards local childcare services.

“I would hope that the space is used for some sort of early childcare, whether that’s another preschool or a full-time option, just something that the city needs,” Watts said.

Evans said one reason to be optimistic is the expansion of pre-K in local elementary schools.

“A real positive that might be a factor is the local elementary schools are all offering more programming for 3-and 4-year-olds," she said. "Like my older daughter goes to Parley’s [Park Elementary], and Parley’s offers a four-day-a-week full-day school program for 4-year-olds. And so as a parent, if you have a kid at a local elementary school, it is easier to have one drop-off, one pick-up.” 

Along with a full-day schedule, she said the real childcare need in the Park City area remains in infant care, serving kids ages 2 and younger.

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