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Elementary principals express approval of preschool move

By ROSS FLINT - rflint@shelbynews.com

Plans to move preschool classes to the former Marsh Supermarket complex was met with the approval of all three Shelbyville elementary school principals.

James Conner, Pat Lumbley and Brent Baker, the principals at Coulston, Hendricks and Loper elementaries, respectively, were unanimous in their enthusiasm for the plan, saying it would benefit students and the community alike.

“I think it’s a great opportunity to expand our preschool and expand our kids’ options,” Conner said.

The school corporation intends to renovate the building and turn it into a preschool with potentially 15 classrooms, as well as add a sensory room for Senses and move the SCS office. The initial blueprint of the building is subject to change, Superintendent David Adams said in revealing the plans last month.

“I think it’s a wonderful opportunity for Shelbyville and for students and their families to centralize that,” Lumbley said. “I think it’s going to not only be a great thing for the school system but a nice draw (outside the community).”

Baker said it was an “outstanding” plan.

“It’s something that will benefit our schools for years to come,” he said. “We have kids that haven’t had the opportunity to be in preschool.”

He added that a lot of preschool programs have wait lists, making it more difficult for children to be prepared for kindergarten.

“This will benefit the kids so much,” he said. “It will have a real positive impact on all of the schools. Kids are more prepared when they come to kindergarten.”

While none of the principals have made specific plans for the additional space that will open up as a result, they were enthusiastic to have rooms freed up.

Lumbley said he hasn’t had any discussions about it, and anticipates hearing from Adams, but did note that the school gave up a science lab for one preschool class. The lab could be reinstalled.

Baker said the one classroom currently used for preschool could be used for small groups. He was encouraged that the school, which is currently at capacity in terms of room usage, will have a little bit of extra space.

“Any type of extra room that’s completely full, that helps,” he said.

Conner said the school administrators “haven’t gotten that far until it actually happens,” adding that he has some ideas.

SCS is anticipating opening bids for construction at the Marsh site later this spring. Their goal is to begin construction this summer, which would continue through the remainder of the year.

Ultimately, SCS would like to open the new facility in time for the 2019-20 school year.

“I think looking at school districts with early childhood centers, I think they’ve had great results,” Lumbley said. “I think this is something to be proud of. It’s going to be nice for the community.”