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Covering state lawmakers, bills, and policy emerging from Jefferson City.

Funds Announced for New Early Childhood Education Center in Joplin

Quinn Dombrowski

Governor Jay Nixon has announced $5 million for early childhood education in Joplin.  During a visit to the city today, Nixon said the Community Development Block Grant will come through Missouri Start Smart, a program of the Missouri Department of Economic Development.

A new 32,000 to 40,000 square foot early childhood education center is planned for Joplin and will more than double the school district’s available preschool slots, according to Nixon.

The governor’s office said the Joplin School District will use the funds to leverage an additional $5 million CDBG grant from the city, for a total of $10 million.  The new facility will allow the district to increase access to its free early childhood education services for low-income families and implement a fee-based service for additional families.

Nixon said the tornado that struck the city in 2011 resulted in a decrease in the number of licensed preschool and childcare slots for area families.

The early childhood space at the Memorial Education Center was converted to accommodate the needs of high school students who lost their school in the tornado. At that time, the Joplin Early Childhood program was relocated to more than a dozen temporary FEMA trailers located behind McKinley Elementary School, where it continues to operate.

Nixon said Joplin schools currently run a waiting list for early childhood education services because of the smaller space. The new facility is expected to eliminate this waiting list.

The new facility will double the space available for early childhood education services offered by the district, and create a total of 145 new slots in the morning and 145 new slots in the afternoon, increasing the total number of early childhood education slots available in the district from 230 to 520.

According to the governor’s office, to date, $17.4 million in Missouri Start Smart awards have been announced for 18 projects across the state, which will serve up to 1,944 pre-school age children.

Michele Skalicky has worked at KSMU since the station occupied the old white house at National and Grand. She enjoys working on both the announcing side and in news and has been the recipient of statewide and national awards for news reporting. She likes to tell stories that make a difference. Michele enjoys outdoor activities, including hiking, camping and leisurely kayaking.