Final decision reached, Tanaina Center to leave UAA in May

The UAA Chancellor’s Cabinet has reiterated the decision to evict Tanaina Child Development Center. However, hope is not lost for Tanaina, which has announced a new partnership with St. Mary’s Episcopal Church. The church is located a few blocks from UAA, on the corner of Tudor and Lake Otis Parkway.

“When we were invited by St. Mary’s to use their space, I was relieved. My staff and I feel stable and full of hope again,” said Tanaina director Stefanie O’Brien.

The Chancellor’s Cabinet issued Tanaina Child Development Center an eviction notice Jan. 27, terminating their 36-year partnership. Since then, Tanaina recommended they be allowed to return to UAA in the fall and remain on campus for two to three years while the center raised funds for renovating a new off-campus space.

However, according to a press release from the Tanaina Child Development Center issued April 9, the Chancellor’s Cabinet rejected their request, finalizing the decision to evict Tanaina.

After the Chancellor’s Cabinet informed Tanaina they wouldn’t be allowed to stay anytime after May they approached St. Mary’s about collaborating with them.

“We have a long history with Tanaina. Many of their families are our families. We share the same or similar philosophies of early childhood development and learning,” stated St. Mary’s Rector Michael Burke in the press release. “This is simply another way we live out our mission to make sure all are welcome at St. Mary’s.”

“Together, this partnership will allow Tanaina to keep its doors open and continue to offer Anchorage families early childhood education and childcare services,” the press release stated.

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St. Mary’s says the Tanaina Center and St. Mary’s Creative Playschool program will not converge. They will simply share space.

“Each organization, which has a long history itself, is going to continue as their own fully functional organization,” Burke said in a phone interview.

“At this point, each group and each classroom will be scheduling their own time on the playground. Each classroom, and of course the Tanaina classrooms, will be different than the St. Mary’s Creative Playschool classrooms,” he said.

Correction: An original version of this story incorrectly states that a task force set up to help Tanaina has made recommendations to the Chancellor’s Cabinet.