As interest in Union R-XI’s early education program continues to grow, some community members are suggesting the district construct a new building dedicated to the district’s youngest students.

The district recently held two facilities meetings to hear the community’s opinion on how best to solve the overcrowding issues at throughout Union R-XI. One of the many solutions put forth is to build an early childhood center or to move the classes to a possible new elementary building.

Currently, early education classes are spread out at several district buildings.

At the most recent facilities meeting, several members of the community showed interest in the possibility of an early childhood center when a tally was counted on interest in the different buildings options.

Early Childhood Coordinator Meg Vogel said if an early childhood center was constructed, it could help develop a community for younger students in their earliest years of education. She said it was important to do that while also remaining fiscally responsible.

“An early childhood center creates a community of young children completely focused on developmental ages and stages of the age range determined for the center,” Vogel said. “Reconfiguring, including preschool and elementary buildings, for example, may be less transitions for children and families.”

She added that space in the current elementary schools has worked and will in the future and said that a strong learning community can be made in either setting. She said currently the early education program is doing the best with the space it has.

“(A child’s) school family can be created in a stand-alone early childhood center or in an elementary school,” Vogel said. “As a district, we want to meet the needs of children and families so I am excited to hear how the community is going to steer us with future planning.”

The preschool setting was launched last year, a program that garnered enough attention that a two-year wait list filled up quickly after the district identified a need for the program.

It accepts students ages 3 to 5, who are at least one year away from kindergarten. Children are in the classroom for a full day, where they have rest time and get two meals and a snack during their time at the center.