Germantown considers options for new early childhood education site

Aug. 18, 2014

Germantown — It might not happen in time for the start of the 2014-15 school year, but Germantown early childhood students could have a new home by January.

Three options for a location remain possibilities for the program, which serves students between the ages of 3 and 5 years old. The projected number of as many as 45 students for the 2014-15 school year is one that has been deemed by district staff as too many for the current space at Rockfield Elementary School.

There is not room for the program elsewhere in the district, either, which recently prompted the board to authorize Director of Business and Auxiliary Services Ric Ericksen to negotiate on their behalf on a potential lease at one of the three sites. Until a deal is reached with one of these locations, the early childhood program will continue to operate out of Rockfield.

In the meantime, Ericksen said he will continue working with representatives to gather information that will help the board determine which of the three locations best fits the needs of the district.

A deal with the owners of the building that formerly housed Cake and Bake would likely take the longest to work through, as it would require approval from the village to operate in a commercial zoning area. The approximate per month lease for this site would be $9,895 for 8,440-square-feet.

An 8,200-square-foot site on Rivercrest Drive near Cracker Barrel offers slightly less space at an estimated $8,550 a month.

It is too early to estimate the potential cost of leasing a 7-acre property owned by Stoney Hill Presbyterian Church that includes a 8,659-square-foot building, which could include a lease to buy option. A purchase option would require approval from the voters at either a special meeting or the upcoming annual meeting on Monday, Sept. 22. Depending on how negotiations progress, the program could make a move into the church property a lot sooner than the other sites, potentially sometime in September.

"We're still gathering information for the board to consider," said Superintendent Jeff Holmes. "(The church option is) one of those things for me where it all happened so quickly."

While concern about traffic flow has been cited as a reason not to move forward with the former Cake and Bake location, board member Michael Loth said the church property could be the perfect fit in terms of traffic flow.

"I felt the (church) property looked very nice and I thought the traffic flow for busses and parents and teachers would work very well at the facility," he said. "There wouldn't be any additional barriers required to keep traffic in line or in order (because) it's kind of set up for high traffic flow already."

Regardless of the location of the site, it will likely feature classrooms, a play area and a private area for occupational therapy and physical therapy.

The move could enable some things to return to normal at Rockfield, including the music classes and other student work that currently takes place in the hallways. Commonly mistaken for 4-year-old kindergarten, the program serves young children with special education needs. While the district does not offer 4-year-old kindergarten, 5-year-old kindergarten is offered at each of the district's elementary schools.

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