Early Learning Center board reviews project bids

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— South Routt youngsters may soon see their new school rising from the ground in Yampa.

A committee composed of South Routt Superintendent Kelly Reed, School Board President Tim Corrigan, Early Learning Center board members and district architect Jan Kaminski reviewed four bids Monday for the South Routt Early Learning Center.

Kaminski said the committee is debating on two of the bids before making a recommendation Thursday to the School Board, which has final approval on which company is hired.

"We are going to sleep on it," he said.

Reed said the committee looks at a variety of factors other than who submitted the lowest bid.

"Obviously price plays a huge role," he said. "We compare what one company has to offer versus another. We went over at least 80 separate 'what ifs' in our meeting. We want to get the best bang for the buck to give our kids the very best in our preschool."

Plans for the new Early Learning Center, which will be built near South Routt Elementary School in Yampa, began more than two years ago. The new facility will include 2,500 square feet of space with two classrooms, staff offices, a family room and several covered porches.

"We hope to break ground in three weeks," Reed said. "And we anticipate it being fully operational by next fall."

Routt County Commissioner Nancy Stahoviak, who is on the Early Learning Center's board, said funding for the facility was raised from a Colorado Energy Impact Grant and the sale of the previous center in Oak Creek, along with other foundation grants.

"It's looking good right now that everything adds up to our projected cost of $655,000," she said.

Reed said the Early Learning Center, which will accommodate as many as 60 children in two half-day programs, is much more than a day-care facility.

"Early childhood education is imperative," he said. "It's great for kids, and the experience is great for parents, too. It's truly a training ground for young children to prepare for kindergarten, and it better prepares kids to enter into the K12 environment."

The program has some tuition-free slots available for qualifying families; other families will pay a fee. The free slots are funded by money from the state.

"Once they move through the center, they all move up to our free, full-day kindergarten," Reed said.

- To reach Mike McCollum, call 871-4208

or e-mail mmccollum@steamboatpilot.com

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