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Additional collaboration between East Central College and the Washington School District could be on the horizon if a $9 million bond issue on the April 2 ballot is approved by district voters.


Dr. Lori VanLeer, superintendent of the Washington School District, made a presentation to East Central College trustees at their March 4 meeting regarding the district’s April ballot issues and the implications for ECC.


Construction of an early childhood education center on the Washington West Elementary campus is one of the improvements that would occur if voters approve Proposition R, Question One.  That issue involves no increase to the debt service property tax levy.  The facility would allow the district to house its Parents as Teachers, preschool and early childhood special education programs in one location and include a classroom for higher education instruction. 


“Students in ECC’s early childhood education program could utilize the center as a lab/instructional setting,” said VanLeer.  “Potentially, we could establish a program similar to those we have in place at Four Rivers Career Center where high school students from Washington and our sending schools, as well as adults, could prepare to pursue career s in early childhood education or work in child care settings."


VanLeer stated that having ECC students observe and learn in a facility that houses infants/toddlers through pre-K could be beneficial to them and  the school district. “This would enhance the ability to meet their needs and our ability to grow our own teachers.”  She noted that leasing space to ECC to accommodate the college’s education program could be a possibility.  


Mary Beth Huxel, coordinator of the teacher education program at ECC, noted that being able to utilize a lab school would be instrumental as ECC pursues accreditation through the National Association of Educators of Young Children. 


“We need to place students at a lab school program where they can observe and be with bachelor degreed teachers,” Huxel said. “To be an accredited program our students must do a placement at an infant/toddler site in addition to practicums at a 3-5 year old program site.  Our students also have to work under teachers trained in one of four state approved curriculums.”


“We currently have may students observing in classrooms in the Washington School District, as well as sites in Owensville, Rolla, St. James and Immaculate Conception in Union,” Huxel noted.  “Unfortunately at this time we have only two infant/toddler sites where we can place our students.”

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