Aspen Community Preschool shuts down after 26 years |

Aspen Community Preschool shuts down after 26 years

Erica Robbie
The Aspen Times

After 26 years, Aspen Community Preschool has shut its doors.

Families were informed on Friday that the Aspen Community Preschool will not reopen in the fall, said Skye Skinner, executive director of Compass, the nonprofit organization that operates the school.

The community preschool closed due to lack of enrollment, which Skinner said was “a super hard decision.”

Skinner said under-enrollment has been an issue for the school for about four or five years now, though it has gradually gotten worse.

“We had about 50 percent enrollment going into the fall — that’s just not financially stable,” Skinner said. “We need really 80 percent enrollment just to pay our teachers, in a school of our size.”

With a 3-to-1 student-teacher ratio, Skinner said the preschool could not adjust its program without sacrificing quality.

Through her observation of how people live in the valley and how this has changed in recent years, Skinner said more and more people are living and working in their immediate communities and choosing from the many outstanding schools that are more “physically accessible” and “convenient to their workplace.”

Skinner said that the community school’s “rural location” makes it a bit unusual and “off the beaten track.”

“It’s a really special place, with really special people,” said Aspen Journalism education reporter Bob Ward, who works in collaboration with The Aspen Times.

All four of Ward’s children attended the preschool and had “a wonderful time.”

“I’m sad to hear it’s going away,” Ward said.

Similar to Ward, Skinner said many family members are “sad and sorry this is the case.”

Skinner also noted that the school’s closing did not surprise many.

“We’ve all been working on this a long time, trying to figure out how to make it work,” Skinner said. “I’m super proud of this preschool legacy, trying to keep the school alive and thriving despite continuous enrollment issues.”

“I hope everybody matriculates smoothly into other schools,” she said.