By Makenzie Marsh, contributing writer
One year ago, the dream of offering early childhood education at Scott County School District 2 seemed nearly impossible. For at least the last decade, Scott 2 offered preschool at Johnson Elementary and then in the last five years, the district added preschool classrooms at each of its other elementary schools. But, with the capacity of multiple parents wanting their children to attend early childhood offerings, the administration knew they had to come up with another plan.
“This project was an unreachable dream one year ago. To see where we are now, only makes me excited for what’s to come in the next year,” district preschool coordinator Emily Jordan said.
In Dec. 2021, Scott County School District 2 received $90,000 grant from Early Learning Indiana toward the project they have been trying to improve for many years: to help families with childcare issues, increasing capacity and quality, and ensuring affordability and choice for families.
“There has been a trend in the need for daycare/preschool for our community,” Scottsburg High School Principal Chris Routt said.
The Early Learning Center, a program that pertains to children ages 0 to 6, plans to give children an early start on the child’s educational path. By giving children ages 3 to 5 years old access to high quality education at an earlier age, the district hopes to give children the tools they need for success in kindergarten.
With the help of the district’s custodial and maintenance staff, the Early Learning Center, located at the East Wing — formerly the New Tech building — on the campus of SHS, opened in early 2022. During late 2021, the custodial and maintenance staff added hard surface flooring, restrooms, equipment, safety items, and supplies to modify two of the classrooms the west side of the East Wing building. Those two high school classrooms were moved to the main building before the beginning of the school year as part of the administration’s plan to have all of the classrooms in one building.
To pilot program, the district limited the attendance to the children of the staff at Scott County School District 2, specifically children in ages of 2 to 3 years old and would turn 3 years old by Aug. 1. Each early learning classroom was kept to about 10 children or less because of the children’s age.
Once renovation and addition construction becomes stable at the Scottsburg High School campus, the Early Learning Center would to create the ultimate center with the child in mind, Jordan said. Future goals would include adding eight to 10 classrooms, including before and after school care, an activity center, a sensory room, and therapy rooms all in the one building. Other goals include more highly qualified staff, an outdoor play area, transportation, and eventually opening up for the community and their families.
“Our plans are fluid at the moment,” Jordan said.
— Madilynn Dubonnette contributed to this story.