COLUMBUS, Ohio (WCMH) — The opening of a brand new, $22 million dollar early learning center on the west side has been delayed.
The Hilltop Early Learning Center was supposed to open this quarter, but water damage is forcing the center to change plans.
“In spite of any recent hiccups that have happened we’re still continuing to move forward towards opening, and making sure we can serve the community,” said Gina Ginn, CEO of Columbus Early Learning Centers.
Water ended up on parts of the second floor, first floor and in the basement. It happened during the extreme cold around the holidays and was a result of part of the HVAC system malfunctioning, Ginn said. Earlier this week, Columbus City Council approved $350,000 to cover the costs of the repairs.
“We are the adults and we as adults have to show children how you traverse through an adverse situation,” said Ginn. “So that’s what we’re teaching children. Even though you hit a snag you keep persevering, you keep doing the work that needs to get done to get you to the finish line.”
The pre-school has space for 240 kids. Dozens are already enrolled. Ginn said although the center isn’t open, Columbus Early Learning Centers is still supporting families through the delay with the following resources:
The Hilltop Early Learning Center is also still enrolling and hiring. Ginn said the hope is to open within the next few months.
“This is just a temporary setback, but once we get in here, we’re going to enjoy everything the Hilltop Early Learning Center has to offer,” said Paula Neal, Partnership Director for the center. “We have a beautiful facility here, but the heart of it is going to be our families and our kids and our partners.”
Construction on the center began about two years ago. Mayor Andrew Ginther has often highlighted it as part his administration’s efforts to improve access to early childhood education. He was at the ribbon cutting for the completion of construction about two weeks before the water damage happened.
“Improving access to early childhood education is an investment in the future of our city. I am proud of the Hilltop Early Childhood Learning Center and all that has gone into its design and construction,” Ginther said in a statement. “Like many other businesses and homes, the center experienced water damage following the deep-freeze we experienced in December. Repairs are underway, and I look forward to the day in the not too distant future when we’re able to welcome children and teachers into the center.”