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GIPS gives tour of new learning center

Published: Mar. 26, 2021 at 6:52 PM CDT
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GRAND ISLAND, Neb. (KSNB) - Grand Island Public Schools gave a tour of their new Early Childhood Learning Center. Staff walked through the unfinished halls to see where they’ll be teaching students in the near future.

“We’re so excited that the next school year we will be in this new space welcoming families and children. We really can’t wait,” said GIPS Director of Early Learning Amy Richards

The district started the project last October. They’ll be moving the existing center from the old Engleman location into the abandoned Shopko building on Webb road.

“We used to have the neighborhood preschools in the schools and our elementarys’ out-grew that space, so we’ve expanded,” said GIPS School Board President Bonnie Hinkle.

The 50,000 square-foot building will be an upgrade for the district. It will be in a central location to give all students equal access.

“The footprint here allows us to expand our number of classrooms,” GIPS Superintendent Dr. Tawana Grover said. “We will have 10 classrooms, that’s two more additional. That means that there’s four more sections of students that we can serve.”

The building will also have bathrooms and drinking fountains in the classrooms, indoor and outdoor play areas for students to run around, top notch security systems and other features.

“Preschoolers learn in a different environment in a different way than our K-12 students and so this facility allowed us to create that environment that’s best for preschool learning,” Richards said.

The transformation costs a total of about seven million. JBS USA is helping fund the playground and gym areas, and Ray O’Connor donated the building worth three million dollars. The district plans to pay the rest of the balance over time.

“Thank you so much to all our community partners for making this dream that we’ve had for so long come true for so many students today and for many years to come,” Grover said.

The Early Childhood Learning Center is expected to be done in July and they plan to have it ready by the next school year.

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