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Springfield (Mo.) district is building early childhood center

$12.69 million facility is set to open in 2020.

The Springfield (Mo.) district has broken ground on a 36,000-square-foot early childhood center that is scheduled to open in 2020-21.

The Springfield News Leader reports that the $12.69 million facility is being built next to Carver Middle School.

"When this center is completed in August 2020, just a year from now, we will have the capacity to serve 250 more Springfield preschoolers on our way to a total of more than 1,000 in the coming years," says Superintendent John Jungmann.

Architects say the two-story building will have a rooftop deck play area, covered outdoor play areas, activity spaces, a STEM water table, a physical education space, administrative space, a serving kitchen, 12 classrooms with shared restrooms, storage, and a tornado safe room that also will serve as a music and art room.

The funding for the facility comes from a $168 million bond issue approved earlier this year by district voters.

The center will be the first building in Springfield Public Schools constructed from scratch to serve preschool children, mostly age 4. Other preschool hubs in the district have been repurposed schools, churches and grocery stores.

Currently, the district's preschool hubs include the Campbell, Shady Dell and Shining Stars centers. There are also preschool classrooms housed in a string of elementary schools, but those locations change as enrollment shifts.

Following a ceremonial groundbreaking, Jungmann invited the crowd to return to the spot in one year for a ribbon-cutting.

"This early childhood center will be a place where young children may experience interacting with a teacher and classmates in a structured setting for the very first time," he says. "We hope it will be a place of wonder and discovery as they grow in their confidence and their abilities."

The architects for the early childhood center are Sapp Design Architects and Paragon Architecture. The builder is DeWitt & Associates.

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