The Saco School Board is considering a lease with First Parish Congregational Church four additional classroom Pre-K space. LIZ GOTTHELF/Journal Tribune

SACO — The Saco School Department intends on using space this school year at First Parish Congregational Church for its growing Pre-Kindergarten program.

After a successful first year at the city’s Community Center, the School Department decided to expand its Pre-K program, which had 64 students in its pilot year. There are now 120 registered students for the coming school year, with some in half-day programs and others attending a full-day. With the increase of  students, more room was needed than what the Community Center could accommodate.

Superintendent of Schools Dominic DePatsy, with approval of the School Department, had signed a 10-year lease beginning July 1 with the Toddle Inn Daycare company to use it’s now former daycare facility building at 5 Willey Road, in the Spring Hill Business Park.

However, the School Department was ordered by the city to vacate the 5 Wiley Road building by July 29. City officials said that business park covenants prevent both ownership and use of public schools in the park so the city could not grant the School Department a certificate of occupancy for the building.

During an executive session on Thursday night, the School Board authorized the superintendent to advance negotiations for a one-year lease, for future School Board consideration, with First Parish Congregational Church for four classrooms to house Pre-K for the 2019-2020 school year, Saco School Board Chairman Garrett Abrahamson said.

The cost of the lease is being negotiated and the School Department anticipates voting on the lease at it’s Aug. 14 meeting, Abrahamson said.

The school, in addition to the proposed four classrooms at the church, would continue to use classroom space at the community center, as well as one or two classrooms at Young School, depending on how many of the 120 registered attend school in the fall, said Superintendent Dominic DePatsy in an email.

As the proposed lease is just for one school year, school officials could decide on a more permanent location for future Pre-K classes.

Superintendent DePatsy sent an email notice to parents on Friday regarding news of the pending lease. DePatsy said that the School Department had been working hard to develop classrooms based on parent feedback, student needs and screening results and had also been working hard to secure four additional classrooms.

First Parish Congregational Church is located at 12 Beach St. in Saco.

Church officials could not be reached by press time. Information contained on the church’s website mentions the church building has classroom space on its lower level available for rental.

Staff Writer Liz Gotthelf can be reached at 780-9015 or by email at [email protected].

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