The Playschool Preschool Education campus, currently under construction. Photo by Miller Company
Back in 2011, the New York Times published a piece on the Getty family’s private preschool, or as their lawyer liked to refer to it at the time, “a private recreation group”.
“For the past 14 years, Ann and Gordon Getty have run an invitation-only, free preschool for the offspring of some of San Francisco’s most powerful families, including their own grandchildren. Families cannot apply for admission. They are chosen, in sort of a toddler’s version of being tapped for Skull and Bones at Yale,” the article begins.
On top of the blue blood practices it revealed, the article also brought to light some of the concerning issues around the private organization, which hosts their two dozen wee attendees inside the Getty’s own mansion on Broadway.
At the time, the Playgroup had no official licenses for operating a preschool, and had never even been inspected by the fire department.
Concerns were also raised about The Playgroup’s director, Lonna Corder, who had informed some parents that their children had autism or some other developmental disorder – despite having no medical training or certification as a therapist.
Upset parents were hesitant to speak out for fear of offending their hospitable Playgroup hosts, the Getty’s, and risk being asked to leave the group which included perks like a Chez-Panisse trained chef on staff that prepared organic, multicourse lunches for their children.
Fast forward three years and The Playgroup is on its way to becoming a more visible preschool with an open admissions policy.
Just inside the 15th Avenue Presidio gate, on Battery Caulfield Road, sit two historic buildings where the new Playgroup Preschool Education will be located. Building 1818 and 1819, once the location of the Infectious Disease Research Laboratory and Offices of the old Marine Hospital, were built in 1932. The buildings have sat unused for 30 years and were magnets for graffiti and vandalism.
The Playgroup Preschool Education school is designed by architect Zack DeVito, who also designed the Lone Mountain Preschool, just a stone’s throw down the road from The Playgroup Education’s location.
Also part of the team is landscape architecture firm The Miller Company, whose design “features a new arrangement for student pick up and drop off, accessibility upgrades, and secure outdoor play and learning areas set within native plantings adapted to the soil, climate, and orientation of the site.”
The layout of the Playgroup Preschool Education campus by Miller Company. Enlarge
The buildings are relatively small – 6,000 square feet for 1818 and 1,600 for 1819 – but large enough for 60 students.
According to the Presidio Trust projects website, the scope of work for the construction of the school includes hazardous materials abatement, seismic upgrades, ADA improvements (including a limited use/limited application lift to service the basement of building 1818), a new deck to connect the two buildings, a new glazed entry vestibule at the rear of 1818, restoration of historic windows, and select tenant improvements necessary for preschool use (new floor finishes, paint, lighting, ceilings, bathroom fixtures, etc.).
The school will also have a fenced, outdoor play area and when completed, the buildings will be LEED Silver certified.
The Playgroup will also be lifting the veil on its private admissions process by offering the general public the chance to apply for admission. It has contracted with website KidAmit to accept, review and manage applications. The school already held their first informational meeting about the new campus on May 1st.
The school’s location and admissions process is changing, but the leadership is not. The new Playgroup Preschool Education will continue to be directed by Lonna Corder, who is listed as a co-founder along with Ann Getty.
According to the listing for Playgroup on KidAdmit, the school will be employing the Montessori approach with an emphasis on “a teacher directed experience in the year before Kindergarten in order to prepare them for the most competitive Kindergarten programs.”
Annual tuition for the Playgroup, which still lists its current 2880 Broadway location on KidAdmit, ranges from $13,000 up to $19,000 per year depending on the age of the child, how many days per week and hours of attendance. The school’s listing indicates that financial aid is available.
Just down the road, Lone Mountain Preschool’s annual tuition ranges from $8,250 up to $17,500 for pre-kindergarten class. Both offer a September to June school year.
We were unable to find the planned opening date for the Playgroup’s new Presidio campus, but most likely it will be September 2015 when the next school year begins.
Thanks to reader Jason S. for help with researching this story.
4:10 am | Posted under Schools
| 8 comments