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New SMOC preschool to break ground in May

WORTHINGTON -- Construction on a new Southwest Minnesota Opportunity Council (SMOC) facility will begin in mid-May, weather permitting. The new 14,000-square-foot preschool, located just south of a playground along Pleasant Avenue, is expected to...

WORTHINGTON - Construction on a new Southwest Minnesota Opportunity Council (SMOC) facility will begin in mid-May, weather permitting.

 

The new 14,000-square-foot preschool, located just south of a playground along Pleasant Avenue, is expected to be completed by October or November. Springfield-based Salonek Construction is the contractor on the $3.2 million project. Fifty-three percent of the total cost will be funded with federal grant money, with the rest coming from SMOC.

The facility will become the new home for 140 Nobles County 3- and 4-year-olds enlisted in the federal child-development program Head Start. New mandates to the program requiring all-day and full-year school forced SMOC to either build a new facility or cut about half of its kids off of the program.

 

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SMOC, like many other Head Start operators around the country, has been able to delay the implementation of new rules due to a lack of a proper facility. The new facility must be completed by March 31, 2019 to receive federal funding.

Along with several classrooms, the new school will feature a cafeteria, kitchen, library, playgrounds and a large activity room. SMOC will hire new employees for the cafeteria and expand job roles for some of its other employees.

 

SMOC revealed the building in May 2017, proposing it be located near Fareway on Stower Drive, but the Worthington City Council did not approve a permit for the project, as three council members asked for a new location outside of a retail zone. The Pleasant Avenue location drew some criticism from area residents, but was eventually approved unanimously.

 

“I have to thank everybody for their patience,” said Neal Steffl, SMOC director. “It’s been exasperating, but we’re going to get there.”

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