The former Bayfield Primary School will soon be bustling again with students, children, health care providers and nonprofit volunteers.
New organizations and nonprofits are moving into the former school at 658 S. East St. to serve the community by providing child care and pediatric health care, among other services, school board member Carol Blatnick said. The school district will continue to own the building, she said.
The school was vacated in the fall, and Pediatric Partners of the Southwest moved in during November. The clinic recently was joined by Pine River Shares, a nonprofit that works to improve food security, among other causes.
Wolverine Academy, a division of Bayfield High School, and The Community Treehouse, a new nonprofit center that will provide space for children to play while parents work, also plan to move into the building, Blatnick said.
Pueblo Community College is moving into a building across the street.
The nonprofit center will offer a new model for child care and co-working in town, co-founder Melissa Juliano said. Rather than traditional daily care, the center will offer a mix of supervised care and the opportunity for parents to drop in with their children.
The supervised care will be provided for parents who are in the building volunteering, visiting the pediatric clinic or participating in other activities.
Parents who drop in can work in a dedicated lounge with free Wi-Fi while their children play, she said.
“We want moms to feel relaxed there, we want it to be fun and safe,” she said.
Juliano and Nicole Johnson, both moms and early childhood professionals, are founding the space, based in part on a similar successful nonprofit in Durango called Cafe Au Play, which operates in the Smiley Building.
The two are working to raise about $10,000 to open the space during July in a 1,500-square-foot room, Juliano said.
The room is expected to have dedicated space for children 0 to 5 years old and a separate space for children 6 to 10 years old, she said.
The two founders are surveying the community on Facebook to determine the new center’s pricing and hours, Juliano said. To find out more about the co-op, take the surveys and donate, visit facebook.com/TheCommunityTreehouse.
The nonprofit recently moved into four large classrooms in the old school that will provide more space for the staff and volunteers to run its food programs, free clothing closet and other community projects, coordinator Pam Willhoite said.
The nonprofit provides backpacks of food to schoolchildren and food to needy families. It also is encouraging residents to grow or produce much of their own food to increase food security in the region.
The move from the nonprofit’s previous space on Mountain Drive will allow the nonprofit to save $6,000 a year in rent and occupy a space about triple the size of its previous office, Willhoite said.
She expects Pine River Shares to formally open its new space June 3.
The academy, a project-based school, will move into the vacated elementary building in the fall, giving the school room to grow, Bayfield Principal Leon Hanhardt said.
Two new teachers will oversee about 25 students at the academy next year, he said. The move will allow the school to minimize the online curriculum and focus more on projects. The students also will have flexible schedules to allow them to pursue internships and job-shadowing activities.
“This will be a very new concept and a new opportunity,” he said.
The academy currently serves 22 students in seventh through 12th grades within Bayfield High School, he said, and has operated for about four years.
Support staff for the academy, such as administration and special education services, will be housed at the high school, Hanhardt said.
The pediatric clinic opened in the former school last fall and serves about 22 patients per day.
The clinic provides wellness exams for infants to 21-year-olds; immunizations; sick visits; on-site swab testing for common illnesses; adolescent care (birth control, acne, sports physicals, etc.); and behavioral health services.
Pediatric Partners, headquartered in Durango, runs satellite offices at Mountain Middle School and Silverton Public schools.