ISD 197 early childhood learning outgrows current space

A handful of ISD 197’s early childhood learning programs will be relocating to a building at 1970 Christensen Avenue in West St. Paul for the upcoming school year, to accommodate an increase in overall enrollment. (Review graphic)
A handful of ISD 197’s early childhood learning programs will be relocating to a building at 1970 Christensen Avenue in West St. Paul for the upcoming school year, to accommodate an increase in overall enrollment. (Review graphic)

As the current school year winds down with final exams, field trips and graduation ceremonies, District 197 is preparing for a bulge in incoming classes this fall — classes whose students may not graduate until 2029 or 2030.

In order to accommodate increasing enrollment in both its early learning programs, as well as in kindergarten through 12th grade classes, district officials have submitted a conditional use permit to the city of West St. Paul to open an Early Childhood Learning Center at 1970 Christensen Avenue.

The youth movement

According to the district’s communications director, Carrie Hilger, the district has seen an 11 percent increase in overall enrollment over the past six years.

As outlined in the proposal submitted to the West St. Paul city for review at the May 26 council meeting, the district is looking to relocate existing early childhood learning programs currently housed at Pilot Knob Elementary, Mendota Elementary and Moreland Elementary to the new location.

Asked what this move signifies for the district, she said, “It’s significant when it comes to early learning and what we believe that can do for a student academically.”

Once consolidated, these programs will occupy the northern 86 percent of the existing building, which will be renovated to include classrooms, a cafeteria, a gym, therapy rooms, offices and space for future expansion. In addition, the district will build an outdoor playground at the northwest corner of the building.

The Learning Center offers several programs for parents and their children ranging in age from newborns to pre-kindergarten. Certain programs are tailored to serve youth with developmental delays and disabilities, along with their parents, as well as non-native English speakers.

On May 19, the city’s Planning Commission voted 6-1 to recommend approval of the conditional use permit. On May 26, the City Council passed it in a unanimous vote.

Noting a particular point of interest, assistant community development director Ben Boike reminded the council this Early Childhood Learning Center would contribute in more ways than one, because the property is still owned by a private party.

“The school district will be leasing the space, so the property will continue to generate tax revenue,” he said.
 
Erin Hinrichs can be reached at 651-748-7814 and ehinrichs@lillienews.com. Follow her at twitter.com/EHinrichsNews.
 

Rate this article: 
No votes yet
Comment Here