Learning center

Design completed for Council Bluffs Schools Early Learning Center | Education

Plans are ready for the Council Bluffs Community School District’s 38,000 square foot early learning center to be built facing east at North Eighth Street and Avenue G.

The property was once the site of the Tinley School and more recently the Kanesville Alternative Learning Center.

The facility will include 11 preschool classrooms, three rooms for a combination of infants and toddlers, two motor skills rooms (one large and one small), a large multi-purpose room, an office suite with health office and conference and other work and storage rooms. , a floor plan by BVH Architecture shows it.

The large motor skills room will be like an indoor playground, with a spiral slide, a climbing ramp (no wall) and a tricycle area. The centerpiece will be a large artificial tree, and a landscape will be painted on the walls.

“This room is a bit park-themed,” said Roger Slosson, project manager for BVH Architecture, during a presentation to the Council Bluffs Board of Education on Tuesday.

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There will be a large door that will open to a large outdoor play area on the west side of the building, he said. There will be two other outdoor play areas for the little ones.

The small motor skills room will have a small stage area where the children can play small musical instruments or present other shows. There will be large blocks and toys for them to play with, and the walls will be painted with landscape and cityscape scenes.

There will be parking along the east side of the building facing Eighth Street North and in a lot across Avenue F south of the building.

The Early Learning Center, described by the state as an exploratory childcare and early learning project, will serve as a model for early childhood learning. The goal, in partnership with the Iowa Department of Education, will be to demonstrate how to deliver public school-delivered early learning in large and small school districts across the state. A University of Kansas consultant will work directly with the school district on the program review.

The facility will allow the district to serve an additional 200 children, school officials estimate. According to Chris LaFerla, executive director of the Council Bluffs Schools Foundation, that will likely come down to 175 preschoolers and 25 to 30 infants to toddlers in daycare. The school system currently offers preschool education in 32 elementary school classrooms in the district, but many children are on a waiting list to enter its preschool program.

“Council Bluffs schools look forward to partnering with the Iowa Department of Education and the University of Kansas’ Juniper Gardens Children’s Project consulting team to serve as a model to demonstrate the impact and scalability of a public school district early learning center that serves infants, toddlers and preschoolers,” Superintendent Vickie Murillo said in January. “We are excited to serve as model site for the state and are proud to have been selected by the governor for this project.

“We are addressing a need in our community while developing best practices in school-based child care,” she continued. “We look forward to seeing how this will ultimately allow other Iowa school districts to successfully serve young learners in their communities as well. Through collaboration with the Iowa Department of Education and Juniper Gardens, we will co-design a tiered support system that meets our community’s early childhood needs, as identified by a needs assessment.

The total cost of the project is now estimated at $18,432,496, including land acquisition, professional fees, mobile equipment and furniture, according to Darrel Meyer, project manager for the school district. A cost increase of 5% —— about $756,030 — was added to the previous estimate due to rising construction costs, he said.

As of Wednesday, $16,555,000 had been raised for the project, LaFerla said. The Council Bluffs Schools Foundation leads fundraising efforts.

“Donors and community members I meet are excited about the project,” LaFerla said. “I think we all recognize that the Early Learning Center is going to have a transformational impact on our community and the families we serve. »

The foundation received a $100,000 donation from Dr. Behrouz and Christiane Rassekh in January. Other funds include $5 million of a $7 million state grant, $5 million from the school district’s Secure an Advanced Vision for Education sales tax, and the Physical Facilities Tax and the equipment, $4 million from an anonymous primary donor, $1.04 million from the Iowa West Foundation, $1 million from another foundation, $100,000 from American National Bank, and many other foundation donations private, business and individual. The district plans to set aside $2.24 million to create an endowment to help cover operating costs.

Southwest Iowa Nonprofit for Collective Impact is also raising funds for the project.

Grading of the construction site will begin this week, Meyer said. Bids for construction will be accepted until March 24 and the Board of Education expects to award a contract on April 12. The goal is for the building to be completed in June 2023 and open in August.