Future of North Bay low income-serving children's center in jeopardy as lease expires

ByCornell Barnard KGO logo
Saturday, September 2, 2023
Future of Bay Area children's center in jeopardy as lease expires
The future of a beloved childcare center is in jeopardy as the lease expired for the Fairfax-San Anselmo Children's Center in the North Bay.

SAN ANSELMO, Calif. (KGO) -- The future of a beloved childcare center in the North Bay is in jeopardy. The lease expired Friday for the Fairfax-San Anselmo Children's Center. For decades, It's been a lifeline for hundreds of low-income families across Marin County.

The playground is a happy busy place at the Fairfax-San Anselmo Children's Center, there's lots happening inside, too.

This center is one of Marin's few subsidized low-cost child care providers, serving 85 families, many who are totally stressed out these days.

"She asked me on the way to school today, if they're going to close our school," said Lauren Gooden.

Gooden had no easy answer for her young daughter.

"This facility is a special place to so many families, there's generations that have come here," Gooden said.

"This year is our 50th anniversary," said Heidi Tomsky.

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During a presentation Tuesday night, the district revealed that they have lost 4,000 students since 2012 and expect to lose another 4,600 in the next nine years. Here's why parents are worried.

Executive Director Heidi Tomsky isn't sure if the center will make it 51, after the Ross Valley School district, which owns the five-acre campus, terminated its lease with the center this week, citing costly seismic and other repairs the district can't afford to make.

"It leaves us in a precarious situation, it feels like we're not on solid ground hard to think about the future and how to move forward," said Tomsky.

"I started when I was three months old, my mom and dad both worked here," said Vesta Torres.

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Vesta Torres grew up at the center, she's now a teacher and her own daughter goes here.

"Our space is a huge part of the program, to have it removed is terrifying," said Torres.

Hundreds of parents marched towards a school board meeting this week to save the center, but a lease extension wasn't granted.

"As was stated in the meeting the other night, we have taken no steps toward eviction," said Ross Valley School District Marci Trehan.

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Superintendent Marci Trehan says the board is still talking with the center.

Now the daycare has launched a GoFundMe to help purchase the property from the district with a goal of upwards of $1 million to purchase the property and pay for safety upgrades. Directors say, it's a long shot but closing the center is not an option.

"For it to be gone would be a waterfall effect a loss of employment, housing, food, anything a family needs.

Everyone is keeping fingers crossed.

"I think it's going to work out, I have faith," said Torres.

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