On Apr 6, 2021, residents of Marshfield approved an $8.5 million bond to build a new preschool, also known as the Early Learning Development Center. A little over a year later, the proposal has gone from paper to reality and will be ready for the 2022-23 school year.
Assistant Superintendent of Operations, Facilities, and Maintenance of Marshfield R-1 school district, Dr. Rocky Valentine, reflected on the journey leading up to the construction, "We held some community and stakeholder events where we asked different groups of people to rank the needs of the district. Those needs included additional space, a FEMA building, improved parking, etc. The top-ranked need was a true Early Learning Center." The district knew the need; now, they just needed the approval of Marshfield citizens to get the construction started.
After voters approved the bond in April of 2021, the district went to work on the building.
Dr. Valentine shared some of the district's challenges in getting the center going, "There were many obstacles. First was financially, school districts are in the unique balance of trying to have enough money to staff all of our facilities, which takes about 78 to 82 percent, and then there is the other stuff: supplies, equipment, materials, and facilities. It's a challenge to make all the numbers work based on state, federal, and local funding. There were a lot of moving parts as to how it all happened. Ultimately, the big piece was taking the bond to a vote in April of 2021 and it getting approved."
Another unique situation was where to put the building. "The district knew the center needed to be very close to the Hubble building. But the other challenge the distinct had was being landlocked in our property. The district does have some additional property, though you always want to be close to your other buildings, so you do not create more traffic headaches for parents and staff," entails Dr. Valentine. The location of the Early Learning Development Center is located at 520 N Locust Street in Marshfield, about 100 feet from the Hubble building.
The construction itself faced several obstacles, including getting the necessary supplies. Dr. Valentine shared that "during the last couple of months supplies and materials for construction were just challenging. We have been able to navigate it quite well. But one thing is our playground equipment. It is not going to be up and ready so it will look a little different for now."
Yet despite all the challenges faced by the district on Aug 23, parents will be able to take their little ones to the Early Learning Development Center.
However, Dr. Valentine points out that most of the building is completed enough to allow classes to start, though "there is a possibility that we will not have access to one area of the building. The multipurpose room is the last one that needs to be finished, but our offices, classrooms, and restrooms will be available."
Plans are in the works for an official grand opening in September. "We will have an evening where we will do a ribbon cutting and invite various community members, parents, and Media," Dr. Valentine informs.
After reflecting on the new learning center's challenges and success, Dr. Valentine said, "Obviously as we are wrapping up this project it is very nice for us to get it finished for the parents and students that it impacts. This is an opportunity for us to say thank you to the parents, patrons, and individual taxpayers that voted on the bond. We hope the building is something that people can be proud and excited for. Their support is what makes our community great."
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