April 15 — SAINE ISLAND – Young students from Payne Island will soon receive a school building.
Pine Island Community Schools built a new early learning center on Thursday, which will also double as a community education venue. The project vision was at least ten years in development.
“School is the foundation of the city and the foundation of the school is early childhood, so I’m really excited to see this building,” Pine Island City Administrator Elizabeth Howard said at the groundbreaking ceremony.
The new training center, located across the street from the high school, is part of a $ 6.4 million project. It will be built in an area where two residential buildings sat before the school district bought and cleaned the property.
The district will pay for the project through rent payments, meaning property owners will see the impact of their tax.
The district administration had planned the project for “more than a year,” but it was delayed during the pandemic.
However, the vision of the school was even later. According to Tammy Champa, principal of Pine Island Public Schools, she remembers the concept being put forward ten years ago.
It covers 21,000 square meters and is spread over two floors. Among other features, it has nine classrooms, a touch room as well as an indoor play area. According to Kara Cordes, the community’s education coordinator, the building will house the community’s education department, preschools, special early childhood education and child care.
Champa said the early childhood program will use the entire building during the day.
However, it can still be used for public events and evening classes, Cordes said.
The district plans to commission the new facility in January 2023.
So far, the district’s early childhood program has been housed in both the primary school and the local church. However, Champa said the district has reached its full potential in these areas.
“We always have waiting lists for our childhood programs, and we know that if our families start with us, they usually stay with us,” Champa said. “So we want to welcome all our families.”