Preschool working in hallThe 2018 School Board plan would add needed early childhood education space at Cohasset and would repurpose Southwest elementary as an early childhood education center for state-mandated programs and Invest Early classes.

Research shows that children enrolled in quality early childhood education are significantly more likely to achieve future benchmarks of success - even beyond school.

Unfortunately, our district's three to five-year-olds are at a disadvantage compared to children in neighboring districts. Currently, only 25% of eligible children in ISD 318 are enrolled in early childhood education, whereas in Deer River and Greenway, that number is 75-80%, For example, in Deer River, the recent renovation and expansion at Cyrus King Elementary provides the necessary early childhood education space to meet demand, as well as space for community education and a senior center. Here in ISD 318, the district has funding to operate more pre-K classes - but we don't have the space.

Right now, the district is leasing space throughout our community to provide early childhood programming. These fourteen pre-K classrooms are in the Itasca Resource Center, in church basements, and in other space not designed for early childhood education. We can't operate as efficiently as we could if the classes were held in a central location or locations with all the support services that students and staff need.

The cost of expanding space at Cohasset Elementary for early childhood classes is included in the 2018 School Board plan and in partnership with the City of Cohasset. Repurposing the space at Southwest would be funded with existing money from the district's budget.

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