Downsizing for daycare

Castleton University president Dr. Karen Scolforo is seen sitting in a comfortable chair in front of a bookcase in her new home.
President Karen Scolforo settles into her new home.

When becoming an adult, many people settle down in one area and live there for many years.

In Castleton University President Karen Scolforo’s case, however, she is moving from house to house to house within a matter of a few years.


Students and faculty have started to notice that a few of the houses on campus are undergoing reconstruction and that Scolforo has moved out of the former president’s house and into a temporary living space near the Coffee Cottage.

“We are calling it the Cottage,” said Scolforo. “There has been a lot of confusion when people ask about ‘the President’s house,’ so we are calling the one that I moved out of the daycare center, the one next to Coffee Cottage that I currently live in, the cottage, and the white house in front of Jeffords, the Granger house. The cottage is very cozy for both my dogs and I.”

She is planning to stay in that temporary housing for about another 8-12 weeks, until the Granger house renovations are done.

Once she moves into the Granger house, plans for the cottage are undecided but could be used as a recruitment tool. The cottage was formerly used as a temporary residence for new faculty, she said.

Ideas for future use include everything from turning it into a lab for students to a small museum to house Castleton University artifacts.

But before going forward with those plans, the focus is on turning the former president’s house into a childcare center, she said.

“This will be a huge opening for young minds and the need for youth education is essential in our region right now. As we have seen, daycare centers keep closing down but after getting all the correct approvals, we hope this will be a welcoming and educational center for the younger minds in our area,” Scolforo said.

She also said that capacity of the center has been increased from 51 to 60 students.

“Right now, we are still getting the land around the daycare center approved by the state and then once we have the ok on that, we will have everything looked at by our architect, get a number for how much it will cost to get a construction crew, place a bid and then start doing construction to make it ready,” said Dennis Proulx, dean of students.

So even though early childhood classes that support the new daycare center will be on the 2020-2021 catalog, there might not be that much action during the rest of the school year near that area.

The state has approved almost all the plans for the center, but the school still needs to remove an oil tank and assess the nearby Rail Trail to ensure the safety of children there.

The first floor of the new center will be divided into four sections, all with an accessible bathroom and exit doors. The four sections, as of now, will be four infants, 1-to-3-years-olds, 4-to-5-year-olds, and those 6 years old and up.

The second floor will be made into all the offices.

“So, we plan to start hiring employees this spring. It’s hard to say how many we hire because it’s so dependent on who is available, what the final blueprints look like, how many students we get, how many people enroll in the classes, etc.,” Proulx said.

The daycare center’s opening date is expected to be no later than August.

As for the president’s housing situation, the Granger house is expected to be livable in about a year, maybe less.

“About a year ago, this house was basically falling apart,” Scolforo said. “Two of the room’s roofs had fallen in, the chimney had collapsed, there was water in the walls, the paint was chipping, and there was not even the slightest hint of a kitchen. Since that point, we have repaired all of that.”

The kitchen is still being redone and once the rest of the house is finished, if there is enough funding, the idea of a garage being built is possible.

Even with all of these changes happening on campus, Scolforo said she has found herself connecting more with the students and student life more than ever.

“I love it! The cottage is right next to the Coffee Cottage so I feel close to the students there. Also, the house is right next to the walking path from Jeffords and Stafford to Leavenworth. And I support all the college experiences so hearing the houses next to mine with music cranking and people having a good time is really cool.”

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