Future ECH Site

Long-Range Planning Committee recommends future ECH site
Posted on 10/18/2017

The Long-Range Planning Committee has given a stamp of approval on the relocation of the Early Childhood Center at the Kindergarten Center site after exploring phase two of the buildings plan over a series of meetings beginning last year. 

The discussion item to go forward with detailed architectural renderings will be on the agenda during the school board meeting at 7 p.m. Thursday, Oct. 19, in the Administrative Building, and it will be up to the Board of Education to determine whether further construction is a district priority at this time. 

“This is not a new idea, just a fulfillment of an identified community need,” Poplar Bluff R-I Superintendent Scott Dill said during the planning meeting Tuesday, Oct. 10. “It would open up the idea of [freeing] up Mark Twain for an alternative education center on the back end of this. Everything’s on the table at this point.” 

Ben Traxel of Dille and Traxel Architecture showed a preliminary design of a 20-classroom addition to the Kindergarten Center including a rec room and cafeteria area—approximately 35,000 square feet in space—on the west side of the building. An enclosed playground and over 100 parking spots would be added to the property and another lane would be created to allow for stacking during pick-up and drop-off times, helping to alleviate traffic congestion onto Kanell Boulevard. 

Kindergartner parents would exit campus via Shelby Road past 10Box, while parents of preschoolers would loop around the new portion of the campus to Camp Road. Busses would continue to access the back of the facility. Staggered start and end times would be considered during the programming stage of the plan. “I think we have the space here to make it work,” Traxel said. 

Preliminary designs were shown for another possible location on district-owned acreage behind O’Neal Elementary during the committee’s previous meeting. While members approved the proposed idea for traffic separation with a new loop road, they ultimately chose the Kindergarten site because of the ease of transition for students, consolidation of common spaces, vertical collaboration opportunities for educators and the highway access, according to survey feedback. 

One of the comments about the preferred site stated: “As the parent of a child who receives special services, the possibility of making the transition from early childhood to kindergarten a smoother one seems like what is best for our students.”

When the Kindergarten Center opened in 2010, Early Childhood was relocated from the former Kinyon Elementary building on Vine Street to its present location on North Main Street. The preschool program operated out of Wheatley School on Garfield Street before that, never having a facility with custom features designed for 3 and 4 year olds such as restrooms in classrooms. 

During phase one of the buildings plan, which resulted in over 200,000 square feet of space added across campus impacting grades 1-12, planners penciled in for phase two building a new Early Childhood Center and moving the Graduation Center to the Mark Twain building. After the major construction was completed in 2016, the Long-Range Planning Committee—consisting of community leaders and educators—began meeting again in December and later toured the facilities. 

Out of the ensuing conversations, expansion of the Grad Center—temporarily housed in the Technical Career Center’s vacated nursing facility—was identified as a goal in order to provide additional non-traditional pathways for students. The first step would be to build the Early Childhood Center, if the board should decide to go forward with financing, which would be possible within the parameters of the budget since healthy reserves have been built up for such one-time expenses, according to school officials.


Cutline: Possible sites for a future Early Childhood Center are contemplated by the Long-Range Planning Committee on Aug. 29, in the Administrative Building.

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