As construction continues on the Washington School District’s new early childhood center, officials have turned their attention to hiring a director.

Superintendent Dr. Lori VanLeer said the director of early learning position has been posted and interviews will take place the second week of January.

The director will serve as a principal in certain respects, she said, but also will be responsible for special education compliance, state and federal reporting, and both the regular and special education budgets.

The 25,000-square-foot center is being built on the Washington West Elementary campus and will combine three programs under one roof  — early childhood special education, Parents as Teachers and all of the in-town preschools.

The target date for substantial completion is June 2014 with the center opening for business in August.

VanLeer said regular meetings are being held to write curriculum, determine programming, and furnish and equip the center.

The district also plans to partner with East Central College on some programming. The community college offers an early childhood teaching program.

VanLeer noted the new center will include an infant/toddler room.

School board members were updated on the construction progress at their November meeting.

At that meeting, Mark Reuther with Hoener Associates, St. Louis, the district’s architect, said grading and base rock installation was completed at the site, and exterior concrete work was nearly complete.

Workers are trying to get the project under roof to work throughout the winter, Reuther said.

Lawlor Corporation is the general contractor for the $4.1 million project.

The project is being financed through a $9 million bond issue approved this past April.