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Joplin School district looking for funds to build a preschool ce - KOAM TV 7

Joplin School district looking for funds to build a preschool center

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JOPLIN, MISSOURI - The Joplin school district is working to gather funds to build a preschool.

 Some question how much.  And if it's the best use of funds.

The Joplin school board plans to use the old south middle school property to build a preschool center that could cost between nine  and fourteen million dollars.

A price tag that concerns newly elected  board member  Debbie Forte and other citizens.

 We still have Columbia and we have Jefferson and West  Central whose needs have not been met and they have desperate needs.  And so I think we need to honor the commitment the long range planning committee put in, their effort, and say, what are we doing for our students who are currently in school in substandard conditions before we say hey lets go build a new building.”

Superintendent CJ Huff says those buildings are now set to get safe rooms but classroom concerns to replace modulars  will have to be discussed after the high school construction is complete.

 Preschool is currently held in multiple modulars on the McKinley school campus. The superintendent says buildings vacated after the tornado are too small for the growing preschool program.

Huff says, “Duquesne is not ADA compliant, that’s important. The actual size of the facility is not big enough in scope to do that.”

And the superintendent cites problems at Memorial, from adult size toilets to too many stairs. It was retrofitted to be the high school again because  before the tornado it actually housed the districts  preschool.

Huff says, “At that time we were only servicing  about 100 or so pre-schoolers.  Even today, we're servicing about 250 so we've even outgrown what we had previously at Memorial.”

And now there’s a waiting list. Huffs says  the  preschool building  project would tap non- district funds including FEMA dollars for a safe room.

Huff says, “There's matching funds required.  The match could come from district funds or could come from donations of some kind such as foundations.” 

District figures show the district expects community block grants of five million from the state of Missouri, a two-point-eight million dollar special education federal grant and one-point two million from FEMA for a storm shelter. The district would need to match four hundred thousand dollars to that.

“The monies we're receiving currently are through community development block grants, um that are specifically targeted for low to moderate  income families that have to be used inside the disaster zone,” says Huff.

And the new site would be in the zone if  built  at the 22nd and wall location.

 District officials believe having a building with a daycare option will allow more parents to take advantage of preschool classes.

 Preschool has been proven to help prepare kids for kindergarten.

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