The voters of Grace today decided to vote to move forward – with some restrictions – on a proposal to use the current facility at Grace for an Early Childhood Learning Center (ECLC), if only a small center at first.
The plan states that, with some modification, the current facility can hold around 22 children (possibly 8 infants and 14 toddlers). A permanent wall with glass windows will need to be constructed 10′ beyond the current folding wall to separate the sanctuary from a new multipurpose/classroom space in the area where Bible Study is currently held. A new exterior door will be added to the new classroom space as well as additional storage. A renovation of the sanctuary was also included in the estimated budget. Even after the renovation, the capacity of the sanctuary will still be at around 55, with an additional overflow of 30-40.
As the church calls a new pastor jointly with Calvary, Ulen and awaits for a new pastor to accept the call, construction will be held off until the new pastor arrives.
Work also needs to be completed on the business plan for the ECLC to determine if in fact it is feasible to hire the amount of staff required for the number of children. The small number of children may cause our weekly rates to rise to a rather high rate. Yet, with the critical shortage of child care in Crookston, it is felt this can be overcome, however research still needs to be done in this area. Another hurdle is hiring qualified staff: according to some in the community, there may not be enough trained staff currently in Crookston (which would be an issue for any center, not just ours). This however isn’t a question we can answer until we move further along in the process.
Since this center will be operated as an extension of the outreach arm of our congregation and seek to teach children God’s Word at their level, a director for the ECLC will need to be called from the Synod at some point.
Membership in the ELS
Also at the meeting today, it was unanimously decided that the congregation apply for full membership in the Evangelical Lutheran Synod (currently we are classified as independent & in-fellowship). Provided the Synod accepts our request, we well be received at the 101st ELS Synod Convention in 2018.
Next steps include submitting requests for a number of grants, including one grant from the ELS Lutheran Schools of America (LSA) board for up to $50,000 to be used to help renovate our facility to be used for childcare and to purchase childcare equipment. Additional grants from Tri Valley Opportunity Council and Crookston Housing and Economic Development Authority (CHEDA) will be sought after for help with initial staffing when the time comes.
An ECLC Steering Committee will be formed, comprised of some who were at the meeting today. Others in the congregation will be reached out to for their possible involvement in the committee as well.
Staffing and cost issues will continue to be researched.
We will continue to praise God for the opportunities He has presented us with and pray for His guidance in the future.
Thanks to all who attended today’s meeting and for all who have contributed to the project so far.