GRANITE CITY — Granite City School District Superintendent Jim Greenwald said the district is still discussing plans for the future of the Early Childhood Center.
“We have quite a few empty classrooms in the district,” Greenwald said. “We are taking a look at possibly doing some streamlining. We are looking at repainting the program. We’re looking at keeping the program for the little ones, but we may have to look at some creative ways to do that.”
Greenwald said as of now, the center will remain open.
“We’re taking a look at open rooms, taking a look of what the possibilities would be,” Greenwald said. “A lot of people out there are rushing to judgment. I can understand anxious and anticipation, but no decisions have been made. We’re in the talking stages. Actually, we had a meeting with the entire staff out there several weeks ago just explaining to them that we are looking at some possibilities. Naturally, when you have that conversation with people, they get scared. It’s a natural feeling, but we can’t allow people’s individual concerns to disallow us to do our jobs as far as taking a look at things.”
Greenwald said he and the board members have started meetings this week to discuss the plans of the Early Childhood Center, which has approximately 275 students and 20 staff members.
“We’re meeting with the board in individual pocket meetings with one or two people because they haven’t seen what our possible plans are,” Greenwald said. “We’re looking at several different options. We’re looking at repainting the program. People don’t easily embrace change and defending the people at the Early Childhood Center, I understand they are not happy. We could be saying that we’re not going to keep the program, but that’s not what we’re doing.
“We feel that pre-K education is very important to the development of a child and we have to look at creative ways to make that happen and that’s what we’re planning on doing.”
Greenwald said the district is finding ways to fill the empty classrooms around the school district.
“What we may have to do is take a look at some of these open classrooms and buildings and we’re researching that right now and possibly look at a possible move,” Greenwald said. “I wish we can stay status quo, but I don’t feel that we can in order to keep the balanced budget. I don’t think the taxpayers would want to have a lot of empty rooms in our various schools without making some adjustments. We just have to be allowed to do our job. We’re diligently working with the board. My initial feeling on this is we would have a decision made on this for the December board meeting. But since this is such a huge project, I don’t know that we will. We want to look at all options. We don’t want to rush to judgment on anything. We have to take a look at what the possibilities are with all intentions to definitely keep the program intact.”
Linda Knogl, a retired early childhood and special education teacher, has a grandchild who attends the Early Childhood Center. She hopes the center remain in business.
“Our understanding is they are in discussions about moving classrooms out of that building and putting them in the elementary buildings,” Knogl said. “Then, they’re going to move central offices into that building, using up those classrooms. Those classrooms in that center are intended for early childhood children and the environment there is a center environment that is conducive for the interaction that those children need to have with each other and with the teachers. If they go breaking up those classrooms and taking them out of the center and begin housing their offices in there, it will destroy the integrity of what an early childhood center is for. There are so many things that are damaging about that kind of move and one, it’s disrupting these children in an environment they’re already accustomed to and placing them in other schools where they won’t have the same opportunity to interact.”
Knogl said the parents are pleased with the way the center is operating and they hope there won’t be any changes.
“There’s no gain in their education when you’re moving them away from a setting that is entirely set up for them,” Knogl said.