State grant to fund expansion to Round Lake District 116's Early Education Center

Round Lake Area Unit District 116 has been awarded a $6.4 million state grant to expand and enhance educational offerings for young learners and help alleviate what officials termed the area's "preschool desert."

The district's Early Education Center at 882 W. Nippersink Road in Round Lake will be expanded and renovated to add classrooms, the building's first library and more space for activities and community events.

Once work is completed the district will be able to increase the number of preschool students from 300 children to 380 children, said Susan Center, the district's chief academic officer.

Center added, the additional classrooms sorely are needed.

"We always refer to it as a preschool desert, there is a much larger need than there are number of seats," said Center in reference to the Round Lake area. "This is huge for our families."

Center said by adding classrooms the district also finally will be able to offer a full-day preschool option to families. Previously only morning or afternoon programs were available.

In addition to the $6.4 million state grant, the district will contribute $1.7 million and John and Kathy Schreiber, Lake County residents and philanthropists with a special interest in early childhood education, have committed $1.8 million.

District officials said having the support of the Schreibers helped their grant application get approved.

Currently the early education building also houses the district's administrative center. The construction plan calls for the office space to be gobbled up by the preschool. Officials said they still are planning on where to relocate administrators once the project is done.

The plan calls for construction to start in the fall and for work to finish in time for the 2024-25 school year.

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