Future For Early Childhood and Clark Field Uncertain With July 2017 Deadline Looming
ST. CLOUD - With a deadline looming, the St. Cloud area school district is still looking for a permanent home for their early childhood programs.
The programs are temporarily in Colts Academy in St. Joseph. The district sold that building to the city last year and needs to vacate it by July 1st, 2017. Superintendent Willie Jett says they're still weighing several land options and that an 8-10 acre site would be an ideal fit.
"We're well aware of the time frame and formal deadline. But the bottom line is that we're not going to be handcuffed by that. Early childhood is too important to the district."
The original plan was to tear down Clark Field and put in a $25 million building on the site for early childhood and other programs. The plan was originally approved by the District 742 school board last spring/summer.
However, some in the community quickly voiced their opposition with losing the historic field. In meetings that followed, citizens urged administration to save Clark Field. After hearing from the community, Jett made the announcement in mid-November that the district was haulting demolition of the field.
Since then, administraton has been exploring several sites, with Clark Field remaining an option for a site. Jett says in an ideal world, they would get a plan prepared next month, but emphasized that they wouldn't rush to temporary solutions.
"If you look at February, yes that would be the ideal time to start a bidding process, but again, we're not going to be handcuffed by that."
The community group "Friends of Clark Field" continues to work with the district and city of St. Cloud with the goal of keeping the field as green space. The group recently started a petition to keep the field which has picked up hundreds of signatures.