Plans are underway to expand the WSU Children’s Center to accommodate 37 additional infants, toddlers and kindergartners starting in 2009. The project would add 2,700 square feet of classroom space to the existing facility located on Olympia Avenue.
 
Construction is expected to begin by March 2009 and be completed in June of that year.
 
Plans for the remodeling were developed by a WSU Children’s Center Task Force and presented to WSU President Elson S. Floyd and Michael J. Tate, vice president for Student Affairs, Equity and Diversity on Tuesday. Its recommendations were quickly approved by both officials. (To see the final report on the proposed plan, click here.)
 
The construction will consist of building three new classrooms and restrooms. To see a tentative blueprint of the “proposed” expansion, click on the following link. (Changes to the drawing may be made in the future.)
 
One of the classrooms will be devoted to infants allowing the center to care for 18 instead of the current nine. A second new classroom will accommodate young toddlers which will increase the number of slots from 14 to 28 children. The third new classroom will provide space for an additional 12 kindergartners who currently share space with preschoolers. Two more spaces will be available for young preschool children. 
 
“I think it is a very exciting plan,” said Tate. “It provides more space for infants and toddlers while maintaining an acceptable cost for parents and high quality care.”
 
Brenda Boyd, associate professor in WSU’s Department of Human Development and co-chair of the task force, said it was a challenging task to find solutions to a complex issue.
 
“I’m pleased the task force was able to produce recommendations that President Floyd find acceptable,” Boyd said. “I’m very proud of the task force members for their commitment and dedication to seeing the
process through.”
 
The report released Tuesday includes an addendum that indicates some task force members believe compromises were made that will have negative ramifications for the future.
 
It states, “The fact that nine infant slots were added, four of which will serve faculty and staff is a disappointment. It seems likely that this need will continue to arise as an issue, particularly as the university attempts to recruit and retain highly qualified and successful young faculty, many who choose WSU because Pullman is a great place to raise children.”
 
Getting to this point was not easy for the Children’s Center Task Force, which consists of faculty, staff, students and parents. Floyd appointed the group last May after committing $1-million for capital improvements to the center.
 
The task force submitted its first report in November. The recommendations included some remodeling and new construction. But one of its main recommendations, to move the oversight of the Children’s Center from The Division of Student Affairs, Equity and Diversity to the Department of Human Development, was not something WSU officials were ready to support. Floyd asked the task force to revisit its recommendations and place more focus on the capital improvements.
 
 

(Picture drawn by a student at the WSU Children’s Center)