Construction to Begin on New Early Childhood Center

There were lots of cheers Tuesday morning when the Washington School District broke ground for its new early childhood center. Staff members, school board members and even students helped turn the dirt for the $4.1 million project. The new center, being built on the Washington West Elementary campus, will open for the 2014-15 school year. Lawlor Corporation, St. Louis, is the general contractor.    Missourian Photo.

The Washington School District broke ground Tuesday morning for its new early childhood center on the Washington West Elementary campus.

School officials, board members, staff, students and representatives of Lawlor Corporation, the general contractor for the project, attended the 10 a.m. ceremony.

“We are very excited for construction to begin,” said Superintendent Dr. Lori VanLeer. “This facility will be an excellent addition to our school community.”

The 25,000-square-foot facility will combine three programs under one roof — early childhood special education, Parents as Teachers and all of the in town preschools.

Currently, early childhood special education utilizes trailers on the Washington West campus and Parents as Teachers is located in the Technology and Learning Center off Highway 47. Preschool sites have varied year to year depending on where space is available.

“Bringing all these programs together in one building is the most efficient delivery of services,” VanLeer told The Missourian.

“Early education and intervention is so important,” she said. “This is an outstanding opportunity for our community and we just couldn’t be more pleased.”

Following the groundbreaking, a pre-construction meeting was held with Lawlor, which was awarded the $4.1 million contract to build the new center.

“They are moving equipment to the site this week and work will get started immediately,” VanLeer said.

The target completion date is May 2014, so school officials will have that summer to clean and move the departments in by the start of the 2014-15 school year.

The building will have approximately 14-16 classrooms and other rooms to conduct screenings and offices. Classroom cubby cabinets, LED lighting and vinyl plank flooring are part of the interior design.

The project also includes a parking lot and a paved fire loop road around the center. School officials said the additional parking will be an added benefit for Washington West Elementary during evening concerts and programs.

The project is being paid for through a $9 million bond issue approved by voters this past April. Other bond issue projects include HVAC renovations at Augusta Elementary; a four-room addition at Marthasville Elementary; and a wireless infrastructure upgrade districtwide.

School officials previously said there are no definite plans on what to do with the small house on the Washington West campus. That building has been used for early childhood special education as well. It was on the property when the district originally purchased the land.