Child Development Centers Gets Approval to Buy Seventh Street Building

Joanne Bauer

Joanne Bauer

Published March 1, 2018 5:35 am

FRANKLIN, Pa. (EYT) — Venango County Judge Robert Boyer approved the sale of the current Franklin Area School District administration office building to Child Development Centers (CDC) for $300,000.00 after a public hearing on Wednesday.

The Seventh Street building, located at 702 Liberty Street, has been renamed Seventh Street Head Start, according to CDC Chief Executive Officer Rina Irwin.

“The Seventh Street building currently houses all five of the Child Development Centers’ Head Start classrooms in the Franklin area,” Irwin said. “Until our purchase of this building from Franklin Area School District, we had been leasing space in the structure from the district since September 2016, when we assumed responsibility for the federal Head Start program in Venango and Crawford counties. About 100 children currently attend full-day Head Start classes during the nine-month school year in the Seventh Street facility, which has room for more classrooms and more students should the need arise.”

According to a news release, Irwin said the Seventh Street building is “an ideal site for our Head Start program. It’s in good shape, it’s in a safe residential neighborhood, it’s within walking distance for many of the children who attend there, it has a nice gym for indoor play, and it has ample space if we need to open more classrooms.”

CDC is installing restrooms in Seventh Street classrooms and is planning some additional upgrades to the facility’s outdoor playground. CDC already has developed a sizable outdoor play space next to the building with soft, durable artificial turf and vinyl privacy fencing.

About 18 CDC employees staff the Seventh Street site, including a director, five teachers, five assistant teachers, an administrative assistant, food service person, custodian, bus drivers, and others.

The Seventh Street building is the third that CDC has acquired the past year to help welcome its fast-growing population of young learners.

The others are the former DuBois Business College in Oil City (now named Grant Street Child Development Center), which houses about 100 students and CDC’s six Oil City area Head Start classrooms, and the former Meadville Elks Lodge (now named Willow Child Development Center), which has nine classrooms including two each for infants, toddlers, and preschoolers, and three for Head Start/preschool.

Three classrooms already are open in the Willow Center, and the remaining six will open soon.

CDC now provides child care and early childhood education for more than 1,000 infants, toddlers, preschool, and elementary school-age children at 12 sites in Venango and Crawford counties. The organization employs about 210 persons, which ranks seventh among Venango County’s top employers, according to the Pennsylvania Department of Labor.

Franklin School District Superintendent Dr. Pamela Dye was happy with the way everything turned out.

“The building’s fair market value was $285,000.00, and we are happy CDC will continue in the building,” Dye said. “Seventh Street was an elementary school, and we’re glad to see it will continue to serve our area’s children.”

Dye also said some were concerned about what may go into the building in terms of determining property values.

In addition to the classrooms CDC currently has in it, the building has been the home of the district office since the school closed in 2012, due to a declining population and with Central Elementary nearby.

Dye said as soon as school ends, work will begin on the new district offices in the junior/senior high school June 4. An unused hallway next to the auditorium will be rebuilt for the district offices.

The school district will rent office space from the CDC after the sale closes, and construction of the new offices at the junior/senior high school is to be completed by September 28.

The project, which will cost $672,000.00, will be funded by the money from the sale of the old school and from capital reserve funds.

“It all makes sense from a long-term perspective,” Dye said. “Yearly utility costs were $25,000.00 and maintenance was going to include $52,000.00 for repaving the parking lot.”

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