Photo of Early Childhood Family Center

Financing and Funding

Financing the Early Childhood Family Center

After more than 20 years of leasing space to house early childhood programs, in 2012 we moved into our very own early childhood space. Construction of the building was financed at a cost of about $10 million. Lease levy dollars, which have been used in the past to rent a facility, will now go toward paying back debt over the next 18 years. 

A $1 million donation from Lee and Dorothy Whitson was also used to offset construction costs. Revenue from the district’s two partners, who will lease space in the building, also helped defray construction costs and provide an ongoing source of revenue for the district into the future.

Funding for Early Childhood

School districts are required by state law to provide services to young children even before they enter elementary school. These services are paid for through categorical state funding sources, which are separate from the district’s general fund. The money provided to the district for early childhood programs cannot be used for any other purpose.

School districts in Minnesota receive funding for Early Childhood Family Education programming based on the number of children birth to age 5 living in the district. This funding must be used to offer programs to children under the age of 5 and their parents. Additionally, families enrolled in early childhood programs pay a fee based on their household income.
School districts in Minnesota also receive School Readiness funding, which is intended to help students who have one or more risk factors prepare for kindergarten.

If a child, birth to age 5, is identified with a disability or delay that qualifies them for services, the school district is mandated to provide free Early Childhood Special Education services. From birth to age three, this service takes place primarily in the home. Three, four and five year-olds are typically enrolled in a class at the Family Center or in one of our schools and free transportation services are mandated by law. Staff in this program includes teachers, speech pathologists, occupational and physical therapists, and a school psychologist.