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Santa Monica Day Care Center Goes to Council  


By Jason Islas
Lookout Staff

February 14, 2012 -- The City Council Tuesday is expected to move forward with plans for a $12.5 million childcare center in partnership with Santa Monica College that will combine daycare with teaching and early childhood research.

The Early Childhood Education Center -- a project that has been 20 years in the making -- received the go-ahead from the College Board of Trustees last Tuesday. One week later, the council will vote on whether to enter into the memorandum of understanding with the college that will pave the way for construction to begin on the facility at the new Civic Center campus.

The memorandum places responsibility for hiring “third party consultants, including architects, engineers, a childcare facilities specialist, landscape architects, geo-technical consultants and other experts” for the ECEC, according to City staff.

SMC will also be responsible for finding a director to run the center once it's completed, though the City will work with the college to establish a project advisory committee that will include representatives of the RAND Corporation and the Child Care Early Education Task Force.

The memorandum describes the ECEC as, “a childcare teaching facility that will accommodate up to 100 infant, toddler, and pre-school children, and will include classroom, observation facilities, and office and meeting spaces for parenting workshops and early childhood research and development.”

Last week, SMC's Board of Trustees voted unanimously to execute the memorandum of understanding in anticipation of the council's vote this week.

Though the idea of putting a day care center in the Civic Center has been discussed since 1989, it wasn't until July 2004 that the City began seriously looking into a partnership with SMC to build the center.

According to staff, the ECEC will be funded partially – $7 million – through Measure S, a bond measure approved by voters in 2004. The City also has agreed to commit $5.5 from the General Fund.

The RAND Corporation is also a partner in the project, since $500,000 in funding will come from RAND as part of its 2000 development agreement with the City to build its new facility.

Staff anticipates that the children of RAND employees will likely use the center, along with the children of SMC staff and students.

Approval of the memorandum of understanding is only the first step. According to City staff, the development agreement will likely not be presented to the City until the end of 2012.

If all stays on schedule, construction could begin in early 2014.


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