An angry knot of parents and senior citizens gathered Thursday morning in the lobby of the Contra Costa Jewish Community Center and buzzed about the surprise announcement that the revered institution would close Friday.
"We were blindsided," said Linda Hacohen of Walnut Creek, whose son has been at the preschool for five years.
There was no official comment from JCC administration Thursday morning. A parent shared an email that parents received from Robert Rich, JCC president, Wednesday evening, talking about economic difficulties. That is excerpted at the end of this article.
Hacohen said parents had no information about the shortfall in funds and were not given the opportunity to organize fund-raisers to try to save the popular facility on Tice Valley Boulevard that houses the preschool, adult day program and educational programs.
"None of the parents knew about the financial problems," said Greg Berkowitz of Walnut Creek. "They were talking about expanding."
Parent Julie Rabinovitz of Lafayette said she was concerned about staff that was being laid off as of Friday. She said she had prepaid for preschool (for a discount) for the entire school year through June and had been told it would take awhile to get some of her money back.
Rabinovitz said her child had flourished in four years at the preschool and she is scrambling to find another preschool.
Patch learned of this news from an announcement posted by Patch reader Loren Elise Sherdel Schoenstein. Thanks, Loren.
Excerpts from the Dec. 14 email from Robert Rich, president of the JCC:
" … the JCC has struggled to reach and maintain membership and revenue growth sufficient to sustain the many programs the JCC offers. Certainly a difficult economy has not helped matters in recent years.
At an urgent Board meeting last week, it was determined that we are now at a point where the current offerings and corresponding fund-raising activity cannot generate sufficient cash to cover the programs at the Tice Valley facility. Given this, the only course to take was, and is, to suspend the activities of the Millman Adult Day Program, the JCC Preschool, and all other on-site programming, effective Friday, December, 16, 2011. As part of this move, employees will be released and the property will be sold."
Rich writes that the JCC has contacted local Jewish organizations to ask assistance in placement of students, teachers and staff.