Moberly approves new Early Childhood Learning Center

Feb 17, 2014

After sharing a facility with an alternative school for about 14 years, a Moberly School District program is receiving a new center to thrive in.

Last Monday, the Moberly School Board approved a proposal to spend $500,000 to help pay for a new Early Childhood Learning Center.  The $500,000 is taken from the city’s reserve fund, which superintendent Gena McCluskey said is city money that is ready to use whenever a program needs it. 

The city isn’t the only entity providing funds for the new center. Moberly also received a grant from the state to pay for 57 percent of the costs to construct and furnish the new facility. 

McCluskey also said the new center will be located across the parking lot from the Moberly Central Office. This comes after the program shared the Park School building with middle and high school students for close to 14 years.

In its current situation, the program shares a building with an alternate school that includes middle and high school students, along with “Parents as Teachers” classes. Director of Special Services Jim Johnson said that this daily interaction between the younger children and older students has some obvious flaws.

“Anytime you have children from the ages of 3-5 in a building with students, ages of 12 all the way up to 18, 19 years old, then that’s not always the best scenario,” Johnson said.

McCluskey said she is extremely pleased that the program has a building that is all its own.

“It’ll be great to put the kids into a facility that was designed for their age as well as their specific needs,” she said.

Johnson said there are a vast number of changes that the new center will have that Park School did not. These changes include one-and-a-half classrooms to accommodate expected program growth, eliminating stairs, ramps for better accessibility and a play area that is more fit for the younger kids.

Johnson said the new location also plays a factor in the improvement of the new facility. Park School is located in a residential neighborhood, making it less fit for a large amount of cars that are a result of dropping off and picking up.  The new center is in an area specialized for daily school activities, as it will become part of the Moberly School campus.

Now that the proposal has been approved, school district officials are still solidifying plans before sending out bid packages in the next 30-45 days, according to McCluskey.  She also said that while the school has yet to set a final completion date, the goal is to begin construction on the new facility as soon as possible.