Early Childhood Education Center in Little Falls to open this fall

Staff is excited with the construction of the Little Falls School District Early Childhood Education Center, which is being added to Lincoln Elementary School. The facility is slated to open for the 2017-18 school year. Pictured are (from left): Early Childhood Education Program Speech Pathologist Angie Stromberg, Program Assistant Heather Olsen, Program Director Stacy Gold and Lincoln Elementary Principal Larry Edgerton.
Staff is excited with the construction of the Little Falls School District Early Childhood Education Center, which is being added to Lincoln Elementary School. The facility is slated to open for the 2017-18 school year. Pictured are (from left): Early Childhood Education Program Speech Pathologist Angie Stromberg, Program Assistant Heather Olsen, Program Director Stacy Gold and Lincoln Elementary Principal Larry Edgerton.

The youngest learners and their parents in the Little Falls School District will soon have a brand new facility.

The Little Falls Early Childhood Education Center, which is being added on to Lincoln Elementary School in Little Falls, will be ready for the 2017-18 school year.

Early Childhood Education Program Director Stacy Gold is excited about the new building. She’s also excited about the fact that tuition rates will be lower than anticipated.

The new facility will feature five classrooms: two early childhood special education classrooms; two preschool classrooms and an Early Childhood Family Education (ECFE) classroom. In addition, the facility holds a conference room for parent education (through ECFE).

Gold said about 15 children are educated in each classroom, with two to three adults working in each classroom as well.

The reduced tuition came about when working with Supt. Steve Jones and the School Board.

“We were able to take those scholarship dollars and utilize them to best serve our community,” Gold said.

Scholarship dollars come through the Pathways Program through the state of Minnesota, she said.

As the result of requests from and surveys completed by parents, the Little Falls School District will offer several full-day sessions for early childhood education.

Due to demographics and community needs, the full-day sessions will be offered at Dr. S.G. Knight in Randall, Tuesdays and Thursdays, and will include 3-year-olds, as well as 4- and 5-year-olds.

In the center at Lincoln Elementary, full-day sessions will be offered for 4- and 5-year-olds Monday and Wednesday.

Parents who want to enroll their 3-year-olds in the Little Falls program, can do so Mondays and Wednesdays, from 8:30 a.m. – 11 a.m. or Tuesdays and Thursdays, from 8:30 a.m. – 11 a.m.

Four and 5-year-olds can attend Mondays and Wednesdays in Little Falls, or Tuesdays and Thursdays, from 8 a.m. – 11 a.m. Afternoon classes are held Mondays and Thursdays, from noon – 3 p.m. or Tuesdays and Thursdays, from noon – 3 p.m.

The all-day sessions for 4- and 5-year-olds in Little Falls will be held Mondays and Wednesdays, from 8 a.m. – 3 p.m.

Those parents whose children attend two half-day classes each week in Little Falls, have the option to add a half day on Friday, from 8:30 a.m. – 11 a.m.

The reduced tuition costs for the nine-month program have been set at $66 per month (or $594 per year) for a 3-year-old attending two half days in Little Falls. An optional third day will cost $28 per month.

For 4- and 5-year-olds, the cost to attend two half-days is $79 per month or $711 a year. That optional third day will cost $34 per month.

Those parents who would like their 4- and 5-year-olds to attend four half days would pay $144 per month and those who want that their youngsters to attend two full days would pay $164 per month.

At Dr. S.G. Knight Elementary School in Randall, parents with 3-, 4- and 5-year-olds would pay $79 per month for two half days, and $164 per month for two full days.

Gold said the program will still include a reduced fee based on a sliding fee schedule for those who qualify.

It may not happen in the near future, but Gold said her dream — emphasis on “dream” — is that one day a facility would be built that could also offer wrap-around child care with the preschool program.

She described how it could be, using the example of a family with an infant, a toddler and preschooler.

Parents would drop off their three children at the facility for child care. The infant and toddler would remain in child care, but the preschooler would be able to go to preschool for a while, and then go back to the child care area where they would be able to be with their siblings.

“That’s my dream — I’d love to see that. There are other districts that have that,” Gold said.

She’s learned from other districts that offer this type of solution that, “It’s not a dream you dream one day and next year you have it — it’s a process,” she said. “But I think it would serve our community really, really well; it would meet the needs of many, many people.”

But for now, she’s eagerly anticipating the opening of the new facility this fall.

     Gold said most information parents may want is available on the Little Falls School District website: www.lfalls.k12.mn.us/early-childhood or on the Early Childhood Facebook page.

Gold can be reached at (320) 616-6240 or at [email protected].