BROKEN BOW—The public has been invited to ask questions and discuss the possibility of relocating New Discoveries Preschool (currently housed at Custer School) to North Park Elementary. Earlier today community members, Broken Bow Public Schools staff, and board members met to talk about the academic and financial benefits of the estimated $1.9 million project.
If you missed today’s noon meeting, another public meeting is scheduled for tonight at 7 p.m. in the North Park Elementary library.
The decision is ultimately up to the school board and will likely be voted on during the May 20 meeting. A seven-year lease to purchase agreement would be used to fund the project through a special building fund, but would not require an increased levy for tax payers. The additional space would consist of three preschool classrooms, additional sensory rooms, and office and common space.
Superintendent Darren Tobey presented a 10-year savings breakdown of staff and the building, citing that an estimated $367,200 could be saved each year for the next 10 years due to the elimination of some staff and elimination of higher utilities and maintenance/operations cost of the Custer school.
Currently, the district spends $3,800 per month on utilities at North Park vs. $5,000 per month at Custer School. Tobey said this $1,200 difference is due to New Discoveries Preschool being housed at Custer which is a 1938 building that is not as efficient as a new building.
In addition to a more efficient use of utilities, Special Education Director Nikki Altig and Elementary Principal Kim Jonas said other resources with the addition of the preschool to North Park would include shared materials, supplies, and equipment, easier access to personnel such as the school nurse, paraprofessionals, admin, and contracted services, easier bus routes/parent drop-off and pick-up, and lunch procedures.
“Academically, we stress the importance of that preschool experience and we just know by providing that service we are reaching more students, we are increasing their academic, social, and emotional–you know, that’s huge at that three, four, five-year old [level] that really has an impact when they walk in the doors at North Park as a kindergartner,” Jonas said.
Jonas and Altig also pointed out that 90% of a child’s brain develops as early as five years old and that by having a quality preschool with additional age-appropriate resources, children are more prepared for kindergarten.
“I feel that early intervention is key. We have seen it in action and seen the benefits of it and continuing that in a more efficient building, a more efficient setting will just make I think the community much stronger just because we are producing pretty high quality little ones,” Altig said.
As for the Custer School, it is unclear at this time what would happen to the building if the preschool is moved to North Park.