The hallway looked more like a Saturday morning garage sale than a school building.
Cardboard boxes were stacked on the floor as were random pieces of furniture, a pink baby carriage, and a toy riding horse.
Things looked slightly more organized in Room 107 of Union School, where the heap of boxes had disappeared and Perrysburg preschool teacher Lisa Hohenberger Potter had started putting things away — sunflowers in the vase, books on the shelves, miniature blue chairs set out.
“It’s just overwhelming,” Mrs. Potter said.
Since late July, the preschool teachers at Union have been in moving mode as they unpack 300 boxes and get their classrooms ready for when students return Aug. 29.
It’s not an easy task, especially since “preschool is pretty much all about stuff,” pointed out teacher Kristin VanCuren Koester.
At Union, the teachers aren’t just adjusting to their new classrooms. The school at 102 E. Broadway St., is also a completely new building for them.
Earlier this year, Maumee and Perrysburg school leaders announced a plan to work together and reopen Union School for preschool. Maumee City Schools closed the 142-year-old building in June, 2011, because of declining enrollment and reconfiguring of elementary schools.
The two schools’ partnership will save both districts money with Union housing five Perrysburg preschool classes and two Maumee preschool classes.
“We’re pretty happy about that,” Perrysburg Superintendent Thomas Hosler said at the time the announcement was made this spring.
Perrysburg previously spent $45,400 a year to rent preschool space at the Lutheran Church of the Master in Perrysburg compared to the $23,154 expense to Maumee schools to use Union this school year.
Maumee will also save about $6,000 annually by splitting the utility bill with Perrysburg. The anticipated start-up costs to update Union included about $40,000 for wheelchair lifts and a new entry gate for buses and other items, costs that Maumee and Perrysburg will split.
For Mrs. Koester, there’s a magic to Union.
“I love old buildings. I’m a total preservationist,” said the veteran teacher, who has led preschool since 1994. “They’re built way better than a lot of things nowadays.”
Her class size will range between 12 to 16 kids, with half having special needs. The children will attend school half-day, four times a week in her classroom with polished wooden floors and windows overlooking nature.
The change in venue — moving from the rented space at the church to Union — also helps with the public’s perception that preschool is glorified babysitting, the two teachers said.
“When you’re not in an actual school setting, it even more so looks like that,” Mrs. Potter said.
“It’s nice to be back in a school,” Mrs. Koester added.
Contact Gabrielle Russon at: email@example.com, 419-351-0361 or on Twitter @GabrielleRusson