Colgate Purchases Chenango Nursery School

Colgate University recently purchased Chenango Nursery School (CNS) in order to expand and renovate the facility so that it may meet professors’ potential need for a nursery school for their children.

The Colgate Board of Trustees approved the final agreement that allows Colgate to purchase and expand the building on February 2. The paperwork detailing how CNS will lease the building back from Colgate has not yet been completed, according to CNS Director Denise Dinski.

Dinski said that the concept of an expansion materialized about two years ago when Colgate realized it was going to replace retiring faculty and staff with many young hires who have children. Colgate consequently asked CNS if it had the capacity to accept potential hires’ kids.

“CNS has had a waiting list each year for at least four years now,” Disnki said. “So [Colgate] came to us basically asking, ‘If we get, say, ten new families a year, can you take them?’ And our answer was that we have a waiting list. So at that point we started talking about what would it take to take more children if they came to Hamilton.”

“We’ve been here for each other for a long time,” White said. “There’s no other facility in Hamilton the size of CNS that services as many kids. [Colgate is] always trying to attract the best faculty possible and the best people possible and those people are many times looking for quality childcare.”

According to Dinski, close to 60 percent of the nursery school and its supplementary after-school program is comprised of children whose parents are affiliated with Colgate.

Because the purchase will increase the already large connection between CNS and Colgate, some community members may be wary of the agreement.

“[Hamilton residents] are probably afraid that Colgate faculty and staff’s kids would get priority, and they already do get priority,” Dinski said. “They might think that we wouldn’t be taking in the kids that maybe need some financial assistance or are not connected in any way to the university, and that’s just not the case.”

“CNS will still be run by the organization that’s running it now,” White said. “It will have the same board of directors, staff and administration. Colgate is only owning the building, not the organization.”

“I think some people in the community or some people who have been around for awhile are a little nervous about it because it is a community organization but we intend that it will remain a community organization and that’s Colgate’s intention as well,” Dinski said.

Other Hamilton residents are excited about the improvement to the facility.

“I think it’s great that it will accommodate more children,” Hamilton resident Leslie Yacavone said. “It will probably make it more accessible to a lot of families that would not otherwise have that available and it might allow more moms to work that wouldn’t normally work. I think it’s a very positive thing.”

“It will be attractive to people that are maybe thinking of coming to this area and knowing that there’s a good place for their children to be … It’s great for the community to have a facility of this caliber,” White said.

Dinski said that Colgate’s support of the expansion and renovation is essential because CNS is a small, not-for-profit organization.

“The money that we [would have spent] on that will then be freed up to do other things: enhance staff salary, give more scholarships to kids, just programming that we don’t really have the money to do or were afraid to do because we needed the money for a rainy day,” Dinski said.

CNS currently has 113 children enrolled, and the expansion will allow for 16 to 20 more students in the under-five age group, which should accommodate for the wait list, seeing as the all-time maximum waitlist totaled 20 kids, according to Dinski.

The expansion will include two classrooms, a multipurpose room, an infant room and an expanded kitchen and playground.

CNS already has a construction schedule, but when they break ground is dependent on the weather.

Dinski has not yet seen the terms of the lease but hopes that it will be a very long lease.

Colgate owns many properties in the community but according to Dinski, this partnership is easier because CNS is a not-for-profit organization.

Contact Julia Queller

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