The Ford Family Foundation has awarded the Baker School District a $25,000 grant to support the Baker Early Learning Center.

“The District’s investment in early education and The Ford Family Foundation’s support of the BELC will have a lasting impact on our community,” Angela Lattin, BELC director, stated in a press release.

The center will be housed in a portion of the former North Baker School.

Sid Johnson & Co. of Baker City is the contractor working to remodel about 25,000 square feet of the 40,000-square-foot building.

The first floor of the original building is designed to house family partner and educational services for families and children from birth to kindergarten age.

Classes are set to begin in the renovated space on Oct. 5. The kindergarten classes had been scheduled to move to the new site next fall, but the Baker School Board voted at its Aug. 6 meeting to move them to the BELC when it opens this year instead.

The ground floor of the remodeled portion of the building will house nine early learning classrooms built to be accessible to those with handicapping conditions. The classrooms will include 950 square feet each, the press release stated.

The interior work includes painting, flooring, ceilings, plumbing and electrical improvements and window replacement. Exterior improvements will include some painting, a new parking lot, new playground equipment and other site improvements.

The total cost of the project is $2.3 million. Grant funding totals $200,000. Other money to help pay for the project includes $1.8 million from the state Student Investment Act; a District contribution of $96,158; and $80,000 from the state Preschool Promise fund.

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