District 200 breaks ground on a new Jefferson Early Childhood Center

On January 15, 2019, District 200 finally broke ground on a new Jefferson Early Childhood Center.

In a packed gymnasium, as part of the program, Jefferson students led the pledge of allegiance and presented official shovels to members of the Board of Education and Dr. Jeff Schuler, Superintendent. Following the indoor program, students, staff and guests went outdoors to the open field for the ceremonial groundbreaking.

Board President Brad Paulsen is looking forward to the future. “We have had a long, difficult journey…but we are here. And finally, we can take the final step in having a facility that does justice to the quality of the program and the outstanding care our instructional staff provides to our youngest and most challenged learners,” said Paulsen.

On November 6, our community came together to solve the issues surrounding Jefferson Early Childhood Center — the November 6 referendum question for construction of a new Jefferson without a tax increase was approved with an overwhelming 72% approval.

Jefferson is an early childhood center that provides critical, necessary interventions for 3, 4 and 5 year olds in our community that have an identified special need. The current building has a number of facility challenges that do not meet the programmatic needs of the children in the school.

The Board of Education and community share a common desire to inspire excellence in our students, our community and ourselves. We know our community wants the best possible education for our children at an affordable cost; efficient spending and property tax relief and wants to work together to achieve our shared vision for our schools.

The scope of the new building was reduced based on community feedback. As a result, what started as a $17.6 million project is now down to $15 million in the latest construction bids. Utilizing a lease agreement, the District is able to fund the new building out of the existing budget without raising taxes.

About the new Jefferson Early Childhood Center
More light, more views, more successes for District 200 early learners

The new Jefferson Early Childhood Center (ECC) kicks off a lifelong learning adventure for District 200’s youngest students. It is designed to inspire curiosity and support future success for early learners, including the 2/3 of its students who have special needs or disabilities. The facility replaces a 60-year-old school that was undersized and designed for older students.

The district’s early learning program and teacher input inspired the design. Light-filled corridors and classrooms display the sensory courtyard at the heart of the school. The efficient design reduces construction costs, and an energy-efficient geothermal system lowers heating and cooling costs.

Unlike the old school, the new Jefferson ECC is ADA accessible and offers dedicated indoor and outdoor therapy spaces, as well as a resource room for parent training.

Sensory Courtyard
Students will create, explore, and interact in the sensory courtyard at the heart of the school. The courtyard, visible from corridors and classrooms, supports Jefferson students at all developmental stages. It includes a trike track, musical equipment, nature exploration tables, and many other spontaneous outdoor learning opportunities.

Indoor Motor Space
When rain and cold weather come, early learners’ need for activity remains just as strong. A motor skills zone will give Jefferson ECC students an indoor space to play and build skills ranging from balance to spatial awareness. The 2,900-square-foot space doubles as a tornado shelter.

Among the highlights students will encounter in the ADA accessible playground are vegetation, a soft play surface, an embankment slide, and a “We-saw” with seating for four. Outdoor play helps children expend built-up energy and promotes more independence and confidence.