School Facilities Financing Working Group

Facilities Task Force

Office of Early Learning, Early Learning Services Division, Minnesota Department of Education

Challenges for early childhood programs located in school districts:

• Eight out of Minnesota’s 34 Head Start grantees have reported challenges with school district space especially in rural Minnesota. Northwest Head Start program lost three classrooms when Warroad Elementary School closed. Three Rivers Head Start Program lost classroom space when Faribault Public School re-purposed the school building into K-12 multi-facility. Elementary classroom space is often inappropriate for School Readiness and Head Start programs. Challenges include supervision in common areas, especially bathrooms outside of classroom, playgrounds and gymnasiums. Countertops, sinks, bathrooms are often not child-sized. Classrooms may be located on floors requiring stairs.

• School buildings often do not meet licensing standards for private early childhood partnerships or Head Start regulations.

• Lack of pre-kindergarten and Head Start programs in school buildings make it more difficult for early childhood special education programs to use inclusive settings.

• Funding all-day Kindergarten in 2015 will have an additional strain on classroom space.

• Early childhood programs report plans to lose current space next year to accommodate added all-day Kindergarten programs.

Opportunities for serving additional low-income children in Pre-Kindergarten and Head Start programs requiring additional space:

Early Childhood Scholarships.

Race to the Top-Early Learning Challenge Title I Incentive grants.

School district plans to include pre-kindergarten programs with literacy incentive aid.

General education revenue and funding for transportation for including young children with IEPs.

Option for using compensatory and integration revenue.

Current all-day Kindergarten program budgets can be used for pre-K programming in 2015 when state reimbursement becomes available.

Examples of solutions with facility funding:

• Virginia Public Schools and Arrowhead Head Start developed blueprints to open a new early childhood center in 2015. Ironton Crosby School District is seeking facility bonding with Tri County Head Start to remodel a school building as an early childhood center.

• Mahtomedi opened a new Pre-K Grade 3 Center. Other school districts are exploring similar options.