Funding and design take shape for Council Bluffs Early Learning Center | Education

Fundraising and design work for the 38,000 square foot early childhood learning center in Council Bluffs Community School District is proceeding at full speed.

The facility will be built on the site of the old Tinley School building at the corner of North Eighth Street and G Avenue.

According to Superintendent Vickie Murillo, approximately $ 16 million was raised for the construction cost of $ 20 million, including a $ 7 million state grant, a $ 1.04 million grant from Iowa. West Foundation and pledges from other private and individual foundations. The district plans to set aside $ 2.24 million to establish an endowment to help cover operating costs. The Early Learning Center, described by the state as an exploratory child care and early learning project, will serve as a model of early childhood learning.

“With this investment from the state and with the partnership of the Council Bluffs Schools Foundation to secure private donations for this priority, we are on schedule to open the center in the fall of 2023 to meet an important need in our community. “said Murillo. .

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The facility will allow the district to serve 200 additional children, school officials estimate. The school system currently offers preschool education in 32 classrooms in primary schools in the district, but many children are on a waiting list to enter its preschool program.

The goal, in partnership with the Iowa Department of Education, will be to demonstrate how to deliver early learning delivered by public schools in large and small school districts across the state. A consultant from the University of Kansas will work directly with the school district on the program review.

Children served at the center will be part of an active learning environment in which they can explore, interact and engage with their peers and adults in a stimulating physical environment, according to a press release from the district. The Early Learning Center will use the same assessment programs and tools as other preschool classes in the district, according to Tracy Mathews, head of preschools.

The Highscope program will be delivered by licensed teachers in age-appropriate classes, the press release said. In the preschool classes, there will be a teacher and a preschool assistant to serve 16 children. In the rooms for infants and toddlers, there will be eight to 12 children, depending on the age of the people served.

The center will have a total of 14 classrooms, including 11 preschool classes for 3- and 4-year-olds, two for toddlers and one for infants, Mathews said. Each will have the appropriate staff-to-student ratio for the age level served.

There will be a large motor skills room and a smaller one for the younger ones, providing children with indoor play areas, according to Roger Slosson, project manager for BVH Architecture. Outside there will be three play areas, again for different age groups.

There will also be a security vestibule, offices, kitchen, working rooms for teachers, storage rooms, breastfeeding room and a multi-purpose room that can be used for meetings, training or as a shelter from the storms.

The architects plan to prepare the specifications in time for a hearing on February 8, Slosson said. The project will be the subject of a call for tenders from February 28 to March 24 and a contract will be awarded by mid-April.

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