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Saturday, Aug 23, 2014

Pinellas early learning center to open in January


Published:

CLEARWATER — The Lew Williams Center for Early Learning will open in January, Pinellas County School Board members learned at their Tuesday workshop.

The center, which will be housed at the Pinellas Technical Education Centers’ St. Petersburg location, will target about 350 children between the ages of 1 and 4 who are living in poverty.

Renovations on the first floor of the center should be completed by early October; a director for the program should be hired by November, and staff hired in January, said Dave Barnes, the school district’s director for career and adult education.

Contracts still need to be drafted with the Juvenile Welfare Board, Pinellas County Head Start and the Early Learning Coalition, which are partnering with the school district.

The center, which is named after former a school board member who died suddenly in 2011, fills a big need in the school district, school Superintendent Michael Grego said. Last school year, nearly 40 percent of children entering kindergarten in Pinellas County weren’t academically ready and fell behind in classes, according to a study by the school district and the Juvenile Welfare Board.

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