MasterKey Ministries of Grayson County recently got its final approval to open a new preschool at Crutchfield Heights Baptist Church, which is across the street from Crutchfield Elementary School in Sherman.

The Sherman City Council approved a specific use permit to allow the preschool for 3-4 year old children to open in a one-family residential district at 600 S. Dewey Avenue. The planned school would offer bilingual classes and serve 48 students in the existing church building.

“This also required a specific use permit to put the preschool in the church building,” Director of Development Services Scott Shadden said to the council about the request’s approval by the Sherman Planning & Zoning Commission in May. “It (the commission) had comments from the neighborhood, which were addressed. They’re planning on scheduling the pickup and dropoff to be a little different from the Crutchfield School.”

The commission voted unanimously to approve the specific use permit subject to the staff review letter from the city and with a limit of 48 students. The council also voted unanimously to approve the specific use permit after no one came forward to speak during a public hearing on the request.

“We’ve been trying for a long time to get into the area that is greatly in need of being served,” MasterKey Ministries founder Julie Rickey said to the commission in May. “We know if we can start it early, we can make a difference. We wanted to start with 48 — we thought that was a good start. We have to be under state licensing as a day care, but it’s an academic program specifically. It’ll only be for 3- and 4-year-olds.”

Currently, MasterKey Ministries works with the Sherman Independent School District and has received a commitment from Superintendent David Hicks to coordinate programs at the new preschool. Hicks’ coordination will include referrals and sharing assessments of students in the program. MasterKey Ministries currently offers after-school and summer educational support options for children that come from homes with limited resources.

Council member Willie Steele thanked Rickey and the MasterKey representatives at the meeting.

“What they’re doing, they’re fulfilling a very good need in our community,” Steele said after the council had approved the specific use permit. “Thank you ladies.”

Rickey said she hopes the school’s pickup time being at 2:30 will allow its parents to “completely avoid” the area’s afternoon traffic.

Plans presented to the city state parents are expected to enter the preschool’s parking lot from Wells Avenue to drop off and pick up children and then exit onto East King Street. MasterKey Ministries personnel said that would allow for “smooth traffic flow” that would avoid Crutchfield Elementary’s morning drop-off zone on Dewey Avenue.