Independent Minds, Working Together

Gault Family Learning Center to Close, Transfer Beall Ave. Property to College of Wooster

Funding cuts, program realignment have made center concept unsustainable

March 5, 2013 by John Hopkins

WOOSTER, Ohio, March 5, 2013 – Trustees of Gault Family Learning Center, citing government spending cuts and program service realignment, have decided to close the 11-year-old enterprise and transfer their 3.3-acre property on Beall Avenue to The College of Wooster at no cost. Leases for all current tenants of the center run through June 30 and those agencies are making plans to relocate to other facilities.

The property, which extends from Beall to College Avenue, underwent $4.86 million in renovation in 2000-2002 to become a learning center. It includes the historic 34,000-square-foot Beall Avenue School building, a restored carriage house, and two parking lots.

Stanley C. Gault, president of the center’s nine-member board, said, “For the past 11 years, Gault Family Learning Center has served people with great needs who had been unable to get this kind of support elsewhere. This facility has provided service to hundreds of people of all ages, from toddlers receiving intervention for developmental delays and preschoolers getting their first classroom experience to adults improving their lives by developing literacy skills.”

Added Gault, “It is unfortunate that despite the continued success of agencies that have worked closely together under one roof, government funding reductions have made it impossible for this program model to continue.”

“We are deeply grateful to Mr. Gault and the other trustees of the Gault Family Learning Center for this extraordinarily generous gift,” said Grant H. Cornwell, president of The College of Wooster. “This is a magnificent facility, renovated and maintained with the same care, quality, and attention to detail that characterizes every project in which the Gault family is involved.”

The property has numerous potential uses that support the college’s educational mission, from administrative, academic and student organization office space, to student residential space. The college will be exploring those possibilities in the coming months. 

The College of Wooster was one of four local organizations that committed to leases after the former Beall Avenue School was purchased at auction from the Wooster school district by a group led by Gault in July 2000. The other partners were Wayne County Board of Developmental Disabilities, Tri-County Educational Service Center, and Wayne County Schools Career Center.

The Career Center, the largest leaseholder, which had leased more than 6,800 square feet for its Adult Basic Literacy Education and English for Speakers of Other Languages programs, left Gault Family Learning Center in August 2011 in response to federal and state budget cuts. Other partners have also reduced their leased space.

This school year, the non-profit learning center serves more than 160 preschoolers enrolled in three programs: Ida Sue Preschool, Tri-County Preschool, and Littlest Generals Preschool. Help Me Grow, a state agency that provides services to first-time parents, has been a hub for services at the center since it opened in August 2002.

The College of Wooster has used its leased space for a number of purposes through the years, including temporary classroom space during the renovation of Kauke Hall, IT training space, and office space for emeritus faculty.   The College also provides telecommunications services for the building, security monitoring, and landscaping and grounds maintenance for the property.

Two new leaseholders moved into the center in late 2011: EJ Therapy Associates, a business that provides therapy services for children, primarily through contracts with area school districts, and Killbuck Watershed Land Trust, a non-profit land conservation group. However, more than 5,300 square feet has remained unoccupied, ultimately rendering the learning center concept unsustainable.

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CONTACTS:

For Gault Family Learning Center: Melody Snure, msnure@gault-family-learning.org , 330-263-8911 (office)

For College of Wooster: John Hopkins, jhopkins@wooster.edu, 330-263-2082 (office), 330-201-2249 (mobile)