Loan consolidation spells well-deserved raises for teachers

Young women reading in playground to toddlers

Peel back the images of smiling, playful, toddlers and nurturing teachers at any child care center and you’ll find capable business managers for whom pinching pennies isn’t enough. They need to wring every last drop out of every last penny.

So how important is it when a community child care center can save $2,000 a month while improving its services?

“It’s huge,” says Kelly Cross. “Huge.”

Kelly had borrowed to buy The Whole Child Center in Tilton, N.H. in 2009, and the accompanying real estate in 2012. When another loan was needed last year to replace the roof on one of the two buildings, the school’s finances began to feel pinched.

The center plays an important role for working families in the Tilton-Franklin area. It provides early education and care for more than 100 children, from infants to age 12. One in five of its families qualifies as low income and receives state financial child care assistance. Kelly says there’s a six-month waiting list and that parents constantly call for tours of the school.

The center has a “Licensed Plus” designation from the state, meaning it provides a higher level of quality than is required. Its programming is also inclusive—children with and without disabilities benefit from participating and learning side-by-side.

Young children at The Whole Child CenterWhen Kelly talked to her loan officer at Union Bank about consolidating her debt, there was a problem. The bank could provide most, but not all, of the financing she needed. There remained a gap for Kelly to fill. The loan officer suggested she call the Community Loan Fund.

We saw a thriving early-education center that had created 22 jobs, 15 of them full time, managed by a strong team.

The Community Loan Fund customized additional financing so the center could combine its loans at a lower interest rate. The $2,000 monthly savings meant well-deserved raises for most staff.

“We’ve been able to put money back into our program, to keep it top-quality,” says Kelly. “When things broke, sometimes we couldn’t replace them. Now we are able to.”

The bottom line, she says, is “a better and more-focused curriculum, and a better child-staff ratio. It really is better for the staff, the kids, and families.”

This story originally appeared in the New Hampshire Community Loan Fund’s 2016 annual report.