County, city and school district officials broke ground earlier this month at the site of a new early education center on the Barton Elementary School campus in north Long Beach.
The model preschool, to be known as Educare Los Angeles at Long Beach, is a collaboration of public and private partners and is one of 22 schools in the national Educare Learning Network.
The partnership includes the Los Angeles Area Chamber of Commerce, Long Beach Unified School District, Long Beach Education Foundation, LA Partnership for Early Childhood Investment, The Advancement Project, Educare Learning Network, Buffett Early Childhood Fund, Ounce of Prevention Fund and other private donors.
The Barton building project is primarily funded through the private donors who are helping to reach a $14 million goal, and with assistance from local school bonds.
New construction includes a two-story administration building, 16 classrooms in three one-story modular buildings, a drop-off area and playground.
In addition, a new 68-space parking lot and major infrastructure improvements are being made to the Barton campus.
Operationally funded by State Preschool and Head Start, the program will serve youngsters and parents from the immediate neighborhood near Carmelitos, the largest low-income housing project in Los Angeles County.
Toddler and preschool classes will begin this fall in portable classrooms, while the new buildings are being completed.
When it is fully open in spring 2018, the program will serve up to 191 youngsters from low income families and range from six weeks to five years of age.
"The partnership between Long Beach Unified and Educare will enable hundreds of our most vulnerable students to receive the early education scientifically proven to provide a pathway to success," said Megan Kerr, vice president of the LBUSD Board of Education.
"The groundbreaking for this Educare school represents an exciting moment of progress for all of us who care about improving the quality of children’s learning and health during their earliest years," said Los Angeles County Supervisor Janice Hahn. "As a one-time teacher, I know that an early childhood education is critical to success and Educare in Long Beach will provide that opportunity for local families."
The Educare school will directly serve young children and their families with a research-based program proven to prepare preschoolers for kindergarten. The school’s dual-language learning approach is expected to serve as a model for other early childhood programs and connect with a related program in K-12 schools in the Long Beach Unified School District.
"As part of the City of Long Beach’s commitment to education, we are proud to partner with the LBUSD and the Educare network," said Long Beach Mayor Robert Garcia. "The Educare network plays a crucial role in narrowing the achievement gap among our most vulnerable residents."
The Long Beach program, like Educare schools across the country, is aimed at preventing the achievement gap that takes root between children in poverty and their middle-income peers long before they enter kindergarten.
At Educare schools, teachers work with children and their parents to develop pre-literacy and early math skills such as letter and number recognition, problem solving and counting. Equal emphasis is given to developing social-emotional skills such as the ability to focus on a task, be persistent, control impulses and cooperate with peers.