Antioch preschool loses lease, fights to stay open

ANTIOCH, Calif. (KTVU) - A popular preschool in Antioch appears likely to lose its home.

On Wednesday night, Kids Club Preschool's administrators, parents and staff geared up for a public campaign to get the community's help to stay open.

The preschool is located on property owned by the Antioch Unified School District. Its lease expires in two months, leaving parents and staff at a loss as to what to do.

Kids Club Preschool, a private non-profit, is a place of preparation for three and four year old children. They're learning skills to help them get along with other kids.

"My son, instead of fighting all the time... ‘this is my toy,' they're sharing more," said Tamanieka Fields, a parent.

But now the school itself is preparing for a fight to keep its doors open.

It is looking for a way to continue to operate even though the Antioch Unified School District gave Kids Club notice a year ago that the district was not renewing the 10 year lease, which expires June 30.

"Scared, sad and really worried. Just a lot of emotions. Caught myself in tears earlier today just thinking about what's going to happen," said Gillian Miller, a teacher who's been with Kids Club 16 years, before it moved to the current location. .

The children at Kids Club Preschool are from primarily low income families. Many learn English at the preschool.

During a public meeting Wednesday night, Kids Club executive director Mark Mokski told a standing room crowd of anxious parents about a plan that includes four options: try to renegotiate and extend the lease, use a vacant building or property owned by the school district, look for a charitable landlord, or secure a philanthropic sponsor.

"We need to show our children we as adults can work together towards a solution," said Mokski.

The school district wants the property back for its own programs that could include one for special education.

The superintendent says the district has offered alternate sites.

"I would encourage Kids Club administration to continue conversation with the property owners that we've identified and look at those properties," said Don Gill, the superintendent of Antioch Unified School District.

Parents tell KTVU they only learned about the looming closure earlier this week.

Four-year-old Alayna didn't speak until a few months ago.

Her mother describes her as a delayed learner and credits teachers at the school for her daughter's progress.

"For us to lose this school, I don't know what we'll do. We don't have a lot of options around here," said Abra Basulto, Alayna's mother.

Jessica Paige says the school has been flexible in helping her family, "Being a full time working mom and a single parent, it's hard to find the resources that you need in order to work and make sure your kids are taken care of."

The preschool hopes to get community support to either stay at the location or receive help in finding a suitable new location.