Community Donations Keeping Barrett Early Learning Center Afloat - NBC29 WVIR Charlottesville, VA News, Sports and Weather

Community Donations Keeping Barrett Early Learning Center Afloat

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A community-wide effort is keeping the doors open at the state's oldest preschool in Charlottesville. The Barrett Early Learning Center is financially afloat after nearly shutting down last August.

Saturday, the school's board of directors hosted a tea-time celebration to thank the community for keeping the school open. In the past several months, donors have brought in more than $50,000 in donations for the school.

"I have memories as a child driving past Barrett, Barrett has been here for 78 years," said Sena Magill, Barrett board vice-president.

The $50,000 in donations are funding building maintenance, scholarships and a long-term operating reserve.

"One of the things we've done is we've allocated a large portion of the fund, $30,000 for an emergency fund so we'll never be in such a difficult place again," said Barrett Board Chairman Hodari Hamilton.

The center also just hired a new director. Board members say the hire wouldn't have been possible without donations from the community.

Barrett's board hopes to reach a fundraising goal of $75,000. The money will be used to make the school more energy efficient in hopes of cutting down on utility bills. It will go toward replacing the building's boiler, re-doing electrical wiring and the installation of double pane windows.

"We were at a place where we were going to have to close our doors, but because of the support of so many in Charlottesville, it's not even a conversation. We're looking at a bright future," Hamilton said.

The school has also raised money thanks to a 30 percent increase in enrollment since August.

Board members hope to use future donations to increase scholarship funds.

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