Update 8 p.m.: Board OKs Purchase
The Jefferson County Board of Education on Monday evening unanimously approved the purchase of the Presbyterian Community Center.
Earlier: Jefferson County Public Schools administrators tonight will ask for board approval for the purchase of the Presbyterian Community Center, which closed in late 2013 after operating for nearly 115 years.
JCPS plans to spend $1.5 million on the Smoketown neighborhood property.
The purchase would be a step toward establishing an early childhood program in the area he said has a need for such services, said Michael Raisor, the district’s chief operations officer.
“There are kids not attending early childhood centers right now that want to attend,” he said.
Raisor said the building will need some renovations to be ready for an early childhood program by the 2015-2016 school year. The building has four classrooms. Raisor said he expects at least those four classrooms will be made available by the 2015-2016 school year.
The district’s acquisition of the Presbyterian Community Center and fashioning it as an early childhood education center is part of a system-wide facilities usage plan. The facilities plan includes an increased focus on the early childhood education programs, Raisor said.
He said grouping early childhood programs together in “wings” or whole centers within schools is “more effective” than scattering classrooms in schools throughout the district.
“We can focus more on it and it helps us with personnel as well, having it at one location,” Raisor said.
Early childhood education centers will also be added at Stuart Middle, Maupin Elementary, Atkinson Elementary, as well as the planned school at Norton Commons (construction on the school at Norton Commons is expected to begin in the spring), Raisor said.
The size of each center is dependent on enrollment and allocated funding targeted at early childhood programs, Raisor said. He added that the goal would be to establish at least eight classrooms in each center.
“Nothing shows more bang for the buck than a kid walking into school kindergarten ready, that is a place where we feel we can really make a difference for the future of this city,” Raisor said.
We’ll update this story following tonight’s school board meeting.