Springfield, MO

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SPS Early Childhood Center to open Jan. 4

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Teachers are beginning to move equipment into the new Springfield Public Schools Early Childhood Development Center today at 2525 W. College, according to an SPS representative.

The building is being leased to the district, but according to Jennifer Beuerlein, assistant director of special services for SPS, the lease will be paid for by the Missouri Department of Elementary and Secondary Education, which supports the district’s early childhood programs.

“One hundred percent of the money is coming from state and federal funds,” Beuerlein said. “Not one dollar will come from Springfield Public Schools.”

Jared Enterprises Inc. owns the building that once was a Price Cutter Supermarket and paid for the estimated $2.4 million renovations, said Alan Bates of the Springfield-based architecture firm Bates & Associates.

The facility will serve children who have not yet met age requirements for kindergarten. Beuerlein said eight classes from four district schools - Mann, Pittman, Jeffries and Shady Dell Early Childhood Center - would be taught at the center beginning Jan. 4. She said 13 district classes would be held at the center by the beginning of the 2011-2012 school year.

She said SPS has been planning to move into this facility for more than a year. The student population will comprise children identified as having educational disabilities and children with typical development. Beuerlein said the move to the center has come under some controversy recently because some local parents believed that children with educational disabilities were being segregated from their typically developing peers.

“I want to make sure that everyone in Springfield understands that this is not a segregated program. This is an integrated program,” Beuerlein said.

She said around 75 percent of the children to be taught at the center will have shown some form of educational disability, while the other 25 percent will be children who have not been identified as having a disability.

The integration, Beuerlein said, will be beneficial to both groups of children. She said the new facility would alleviate the need for modular units at several district elementary schools. Beuerlein said, to this point, SPS has taught children in the early childhood programs in 17 classrooms at seven sites.[[In-content Ad]]


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