Over 120 community stakeholders gathered at the new Early Learning
Center (ELC) on A Street this past Tuesday to celebrate its opening. The
campus of the ELC was the former site of the Parkland United Methodist
Church, which had served the Parkland community for 125 years. The
church was completely remodeled to meet the educational specifications
of the ELC.
Congregants of the former church were recognized during the ceremony with a plaque that will be permanently affixed to
the ELC building. Speakers included Supt. Frank Hewins, School Board
President Cole Roberts, ELC Principal Ruth Tiger, Support Services
Executive Director Robin Heinrichs, Senator Bruce Dammeier,
Representative Melanie Stambaugh, and Representative Hans Zeiger.
In his remarks during the ceremony, Superintendent Hewins said, "Not
only does Franklin Pierce have one of the largest early learning
programs in the state for school districts of our size, but we are also
one of the few school districts in the state that have a centrally
located early learning center facility that serves Head Start, ECEAP,
Development Preschool, and Community Preschool – all under one roof.
This is good for students because we are able to distribute
instructional resources more efficiently in one, central location –
which translates into students receiving more attention, and having
greater access to specialists, as needed."
The goal of the ELC is
to prepare all ELC students for success in Kindergarten. The 20,740
square foot building serves 320 students, ages 3 to 5. The project cost
$6.3 million, $2 million of which came from the most recent Washington
State Capital Budget passed by the Legislature. While many legislators
were supportive of the project, Senators Bruce Dammeier and Steve
Conway, as well as Representatives Melanie Stambaugh and Hans Zeiger,
were among the strongest proponents.