COLUMBUS, NE — Community leaders are looking at expanding early childhood education opportunities in Columbus.

Columbus Public Schools held its third and final roundtable discussion on early childhood education Tuesday night.  The school board is seeking to gauge public interest in an Early Childhood Education Center and find out what services are desired.

CPS Executive Director of Student Services Jason Harris says people attending the roundtables have supported the idea of a facility.

“Out of the three roundtable discussions, we haven’t had anyone who says they wouldn’t (support a facility)," Harris said.  "I think people still have more questions and we are willing to answer those questions as we get data.”

CPS data shows about 480 Columbus children under age six are not enrolled in a licensed preschool.  In a survey of 500 residents, more than half said they don’t feel there’s enough child care and preschool options in town.

Harris says prekindergarten education is critical to student success.

“Early childhood education supports school districts in making sure students are entering kindergarten at a level that they can be ready and not behind," Harris said.

Harris says the school board is considering the Kramer Education Center on the site of the old middle school as an option for a new facility.

He says a new facility would host all CPS preschool classes, which are currently spread across four locations.  The District is also considering allowing a third-party child care provider to use the facility.

The school board says a new facility would not affect the tax levy.