ST. CLOUD - The St. Cloud Area School District has approved funding for a $17.5 million early childhood facility near Discovery Community School in Waite Park.

Funding for the building will be provided by a charge to community education over 20 years for $2 million in revenue. The remaining funding of up to $16 million will come by a lease levy, which will be a tax increase. However, the district emphasized that the plan has a corresponding decrease in the long term facilities levy by the same amount. Therefore, there should be a zero net increase in total taxes to district residents.

District 742 has been searching for a permanent home for early childhood education since a fire heavily damaged the Roosevelt building in the summer of 2014. The programs were temporarily moved to Colts Academy in St. Joseph.

The 67,000 square foot building will be a separate building on the west side of the Discovery property. It will also be the long-term home for the district welcome center and community education programs.

Roughly 45,000 feet will be used for early childhood, the rest would be for community education and the welcome center.

District 742 ultimately decided to build on the site because they already own the property, it’s on a city bus line, they have fiber connection for technology there and water and sewer are already at the site.

The district hopes to have the new building open in summer 2018. District 742 executive director of business services, Kevin Januszewski says design work for the new building is about 90 percent complete.