PART 3 - NEXT STEPS
In the summer of 1972, with the backing of the United Way Board, the Civic League applied for funds to finance the opening of a satellite day nursery center. State grants provided start-up funds for equipment and a combination of Federal and United Way monies made possible a contract with the Social Services Department to pay the fees of all income eligible children. Space made available by the First Christian Church in northwest Rochester became the Northwest Center in October 1972, licensed to care for 28 children, bringing the combined total to 64 children being cared for by the Civic League Day Nursery. The teaching staff was increased from 5 1/2 to 12. The contract was renewed in 1973. The daily cost per child was $8.55 and the annual budget was $104,000.
Meanwhile, the old frame Woodworth house was deteriorating. The Mayo Foundation was approached with the idea of exchanging the Woodworth property for the vacant Balfour property at the corner of Fifth Street and Sixth Avenue Southwest. The larger Balfour property would allow the Civic League Board to consolidate its after-school kindergarten program and downtown nursery. The Mayo Foundation agreed to the proposal so the Civic League Board went to the community seeking financial help for building renovations, including the installation of sprinkler system required by state code, and for moving expenses. The Rochester Area Foundation approved a grant of $6,000, the Kahler Foundation gave $1,500 and $400 was donated by the Exchange Club. A loan of $25,000 was secured with the cooperation of the Rochester banks.
In August 1975, after many hours of volunteer labor by the Civic League Board members, staff, parents and members of the local painters Union, an after school kindergarten program for 25 children moved to the first floor rooms of the Balfour House. In October, the nursery programs which been had been housed in the Woodworth house for 45 years were moved to the second floor of the Balfour house. By February of 1976, renovation of the third floor was completed allowing the kindergarten group to occupy the third floor and additional preschoolers to occupy the first floor so the Balfour housed 68 children. The still active satellite Northwest Center program served 29 children.
In September 1976, the age span of children served by a Civic League programs grew when first and second grade children were permitted to enroll in the after-school program. Two years later, in 1978 grants from the Rochester Area Foundation and the Kahler Corp. made possible the remodeling of the basement area of the Balfour House for classroom use for toddlers and part of the garage as an office. With the additional space, the Balfour House was licensed for 89 children. The Northwest Center was then closed and all day nursery operations were consolidated at one site.
In 1986, the annual operating budget of the Civic League Day Nursery grew to $284,727. The United Way of Olmsted County, the Federal Government Child Care Food Subsidy and parent fees were the primary funding sources. The fees were $60 per week per child. Sliding fee payments were made available for eligible families. The Child Care Resource and Referral office administered the County, State and Federal monies for subsidized fees. United Way sliding fee dollars were managed by the Executive Director of the Civic League Day Nursery. The Day Nursery program was licensed to serve 93 children, ages 2 to 8. The staff included a full-time executive director, 5 lead teachers, 7 assistant teachers, a cook and an assistant cook, a part-time office manager and a custodian.
The start of the school year in 1988 saw further expansion as Civic League Day Nursery began operating the newly built Day Care Center for 30 children at the Rochester Technical College. This center also served as a lab school for training students enrolled in the Child Development Assistant Program. Women's Civic League of Rochester celebrated their centennial with a luncheon for past board members at this new center. Revised licensing standards for group day care also went into effect in 1988. These standards required additional detailed record keeping and more specific training for teachers.
The budget for 1991 was $395,000. The preschool weekly fee was $81 and the before and after school kindergarten fee was $68. The total licensed capacity of both centers was 123. The combined staff included 1 director, 1 supervisor/lead teacher, 6 lead teachers, 9 assistant teachers, 1 part-time office manager, 3 part-time cooks and 1 part-time custodian.
The Balfour House was shown on the 1991 American Association of University Women spring House Tour. Several hundred people showed an interest in the house's history and its current use.
In July, 1996 the southeast childcare site moved from Riverland Technical College to the new Rochester Community and Technical College at the University Center Rochester. Lead and Assistant teachers were encouraged to use up to 40 hours each year of regular work time for job related training; and a collaborative relationship between Head Start and Civic League initially begun at the Rochester Technical College was also expanded to the southwest location at Balfour House in 1998.
In the 1990's, as the Rochester community experiences economic and diverse growth so too did the Civic League Day Nursery. The primary sources of revenue continued to be a combination of parent fees and subsidies from the United Way of Olmsted County, the Federal Government Child Care Food Program and Child Care Resources & Referral. In 2000, personnel costs (salaries and benefits) rose to nearly $500,000 for 23 staff members. The annual operating budget was over $674,000. The southwest location was licensed for 93 children ages 2 ½ through Kindergarten and the southeast location was licensed to serve 39 children ages 2 through 5. The rates for toddlers ran $150.00/week; preschoolers $140/week and kindergarteners $120/week. The sliding fee scale was $30/week. In 1999, 25% of the total enrollment benefited from the sliding fee scale.
A focus on fund-raising and development was undertaken in the latter part of the 1990's. In 1996, the Joan Gravett Scholarship Fund was established with the Rochester Area Foundation to allow a child to receive quality childcare when other sources for funding fell short. The fund was established in honor of Mrs. Gravett who served nine years as a board member and 18 years as director of the nursery.
A professional building inspection was done to the Balfour House in the summer of 1998 and a Capital Budget was put in place to address the recommendations to replace the original furnace, shingle roof, windows and exterior wood rot. The original furnace was replaced in the spring of 1999. In the summer of 1999 refurbishment of the apartment above the Civic League office was completed. The rent from the apartment helps to fund the various maintenance contractors such as lawn mowing and snow removal the Balfour House requires.
A direct appeal to former and current parents, past and present board members called "This Old Nursery" was begun in August 2000 to solicit funds specifically for the replacement of the original roof, with the Rochester Area Foundation generously contributing $30,000 to the fund. The year 2000 also marked the 25th year that the 126 year old Balfour House had been in continuous use as the southwest location, and celebrated the Nursery's 70th year.
In July 2000, Women's Civic League Inc. of Rochester, Minnesota was legally changed
to Civic League Day Nursery of Rochester, Minnesota to accurately reflect the board's current charter --- to set policy and oversee the overall operations of the oldest and best nursery school in Rochester --- and to recognize the addition of men to the Board.
In 2001, Children’s Home Society decided to close its nonprofit childcare center in Rochester. Civic League was asked by Child Care Resource and Referral and dozens of Children’s Home Society parents to take over the operation of the center at 3212 22nd Street NW. With help from CCRR, United Way and Southern MN Initiative Foundation, Civic League was able to keep the center open, retaining its staff and students.
By 2004, it was clear Civic League Day Nursery had outgrown this facility in northwest Rochester. Long waiting lists, the cost of maintaining an older building, and the desire for a more stable situation than the short-term lease provided, motivated the Board to form a committee to explore options to relocate this center. After months of looking at existing buildings and finding nothing suitable, they met with several architects and builders to discuss building a center that would meet Civic League’s needs.
In 2005, Civic League Day Nursery celebrated its 75th anniversary. It was a remarkable achievement considering the organization started during the Great Depression serving twelve children in a single classroom and had grown to three sites serving over 230 children annually.