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A chance at a better future

Tough economy doesn’t dampen spirits of those who gather for a lottery shot at affordable preschool

Posted: March 12, 2009 1:30 a.m.
Updated: March 12, 2009 4:30 a.m.

Currently enrolled children at the Fun For Four Preschool play and learn during activities time. On Wednesday morning, some 53 applicants showed up for 24 openings which were filled via lottery drawing.

About 50 families crossed their fingers Wednesday at Mountainview Elementary School and hoped their 4-year-olds would snag one of 24 spots at Mountainview Fun for Fours Preschool.

The Saugus preschool held a lottery for 2009-10 school year openings, and some 30 families wound up on the waiting list, up from 20 last year.

"The price is a big factor," said Michaela Weary, whose 4-year-old son won a spot at the school.

"My husband lost his job two years ago in construction and we had to downgrade everything a little bit. He has gotten a job since, but it's nothing like it was before."

Lottery winners will pay just $60 a month for the preschool, rather than the hundreds of dollars it costs at private preschools.

Mountainview Fun for Fours is one of five preschools in the Santa Clarita Valley funded by Los Angeles Universal Preschool, a nonprofit organization. Santa Clarita Elementary School also hosts a preschool.

"I think that our reputation is starting to build up," said Mary Gilbert, site director for Mountainview Fun for Fours.

"We try to offer parents different options. We try to help them as much as we can," Gilbert said.

Weary looks forward to enrolling her son in the preschool, especially since her daughter, now in kindergarten, was unable to move past the waiting list for the preschool two years ago.

Arlane Raschdorf-King's daughter didn't make it into the pre-school during Wednesday's lottery.

She hoped to enroll her daughter at Mountainview Fun for Fours because of her now-7-year-old older daughter's positive experience.

"My first daughter went to Mountainview, and it's just a fantastic program," she said, referring to the academics and the socialization opportunities for youngsters.


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