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updated: 1/15/2014 11:51 AM

District 54 to open new Early Childhood Center in fall

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Using $19.5 million already in reserves, Schaumburg Township Elementary District 54 officials will consolidate their preschool sites into one Early Childhood Center and expand the administration building next door.

Refurbishment and an addition will be made for early childhood classes to begin in August at what is now the Rauch Center for Instruction and Technology, 520 E. Schaumburg Road, next to the district's administrative building

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The Rauch Center originally was built as Schaumburg School, the district's second-oldest school, and will be resuming its role as classroom space, district spokeswoman Terri McHugh said.

The administrators being displaced by the project will be moved to an expansion of the Rafferty Administration Center on the same campus. This should make the interaction between administrators on the campus more efficient, school board Vice President Charlotte Kegarise said.

District 54 currently has three types of early childhood programs housed at several of its 27 schools: Early Childhood Special Education, Preschool For All -- Pre-K At-Risk, and Parent-Paid Preschool.

The new Early Childhood Center will house the first two programs, while Parent-Paid Preschool will be discontinued, McHugh said.

While intended to be self-funded, Parent-Paid Preschool never truly was because it was underused, McHugh said. Meanwhile, waiting lists existed for the other two programs aimed at narrowing the gap between special ed and at-risk students and their peers progressing at a more typical rate.

Among the at-risk factors identified for students are speech/communication, social-emotional development or such family environmental factors as low income, homelessness and not speaking English.

Kegarise said she considers money on these programs and the Early Childhood Center well-spent because it can help lower additional costs for some students later.

"They can start kindergarten with their peers and not be falling behind already," Kegarise said.

The new center will be able to serve more than 860 kids, eliminating the current waiting lists, she said.

The district is recommended to keep six months of operational expenses in its reserves but currently has nine months' worth. Even after the cost of the Early Childhood Center and administration building expansion, the district will have 7 months of reserves, Kegarise said.

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