COQUILLE — Whenever Tim Sweeney looks out of his office windows, he hopes to see a finished playground for his district's newest addition.
Coquille School District is celebrating the completion of the Lincoln School of Early Learning Childhood Development Center. Construction on the school began in April last year and is to be finished Nov. 1 in time for the ribbon-cutting ceremony.
The new building is attached to the district office, adding on another 2,500 square feet in total.
“This whole thing got started with the fact that we continue to see an increase of demand from parents for students in the three, four, and five-year-old range,” said Sweeney, Coquille School District's superintendent. “Parents wanted a centralized location for students, even beyond five years old where parents didn't have anyone home after school. In those cases, the center can hold them until parents get off work in the evening.”
Expanding the Lincoln School program was needed to accommodate space, and according to Sweeney continues to explode. This year's school enrollment numbers show 80 kindergarteners, 40 four year olds, and 42 other students who come in the morning, afternoon, or stay all day.
“So we have quite the group,” Sweeney said. “There are still calls for parents who need support for their two year olds, which continues to increase.”
The center will be open year-round, aside from major holidays and is a packaged deal, giving every child five meals a day free through the district.
Children 30 months to eight years old are accepted into the program. It costs $3.60 an hour with a maximum of $700 a month from beginning to end. For families that receive support from DHS, there is a sliding scale for payments.
“First of all, this center is a safe place for kids to stay while parents are at work,” Sweeney said. “We have grandparents watching kids an awful lot, so they can drop the kids off here for a few hours and give themselves a break. It's a flexible parent-driven center. What the parents need is what we are trying to accommodate.”
Not only does the center serve as a daycare, but it provides pre-school and cutting edge technology for three to five year olds.
There is also a new playground to go along with the center, something that Sweeney is excited to see finished.
“It's going to be a great play area,” he said. “We have all worked hard to create an outdoor space that is very centered on kids. I've had fun personally creating tricycle track that is padded. The whole thing is going to be a safe, fun place for kids to enjoy both indoor and outdoor activities.”
Sweeney described himself as being “giddy” to see this expansion finished because he is already seeing the impact it's having on parents who come in and talk about the difference it's making, which to him is “a big deal.”
He invites parents who have questions about the center to swing by and take a look and go on a tour.
“We can continue to grow this,” he said in a previous interview. “I don't believe money should ever get in the way of doing what is right for kids.”