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Day-care center is built by coalition

Maria Rivera fears she will be too far away from her son during the day. The legal secretary, who works from 8 to 5, used to leave her 2-year-old with a babysitter.

Now, he's five minutes away from her office in a new, trendy day-care center set up for employees who commute to the West Shore area daily.

Organizers of the Westshore Alliance Partnership School, opened Feb. 3, held an open house and dedication ceremony Tuesday afternoon to show off their day-care center.

Center director Pam Burke said 88 children are enrolled in day care, and another 22 children come after school from Grady, Dale Mabry, Morgan Woods and Mitchell elementary schools and St. Lawrence and St. Joesph Catholic schools.

Vans from the day care pick up the after-school attendees.

The school is open from 6:30 a.m. to 6:30 p.m. and the rates run from $63 to $73 a week per child. When full, roughly 160 pupils will attend. And sometime in 1994, it will add first- and second-graders to the program.

On Tuesday, Rivera and her son, Victor, played with Lego blocks on the floor near 12 other playmates; the center is tucked away in the parking lot of the Airport Executive Center, 2203 N Lois Ave.

Tampa Mayor Sandy Freedman and Hillsborough School Superintendent Dr. Walter Sickles snipped the ribbon for the grand opening.

The school is Hillsborough's first partnership school, which means private companies get together with government entities to provide service.

Westshore Alliance is a private, non-profit group made up of 13 West Shore businesses, including the Travelers insurance company, CIGNA health plan and others.

The city of Tampa provides space, security and custodial staff while the Hillsborough County school system furnishes teachers, books and other materials. The YMCA will operate the day-care center.

Ron Rotella, executive director of the alliance, said the school stands out from other corporate day cares because it is operated by a coalition of businesses.

The six-room day-care center is set up for different age groups, and it has a kitchen and a washer and dryer.

Marsha Osorio said she was impressed with what she saw. She said she plans on taking her 4-year-old Johnathan out of his day care and starting him at the Partnership School on Monday.

"It's in a centralized area, they have really good rates and they offer breakfast, which really helps parents out," said Osorio, who owns a cleaning service near the day-care center.

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