Elementary school students at the Delphi Academy on Fourth Street pretend to be an electric pencil sharpener as part of a spring break project in which college students educate youngsters about energy usage and sustainability. (Photo by Kevin Herrera)

The Santa Monica-Malibu Unified School District and Santa Monica College are entering a partnership to teach and care for young children while introducing older students to possible careers in childhood development.

The Santa Monica-Malibu school board on Thursday approved an agreement between the district and the local community college to establish the Santa Monica Preschool Collaborative, which will oversee up to 108 area children under age 6 at John Adams Child Development Center and Washington West Preschool.

The preschools will double as work-study sites intending “to inspire SMC students to enter the field of child development through a positive work experience,” the agreement reads. A joint internship program will aim to provide students with interactive learning opportunities.

The agreement, which spells out the operation of full-day, year-round services at the two sites, takes effect July 1 and continues through June 30, 2016, although it can be terminated by either party with 45 days’ notice.

An advisory committee with representatives from SMMUSD and SMC will meet at least quarterly to guide the collaborative on programming, enrichment, staff development and parent education. A committee member will meet monthly with classroom staff.

“It is our hope and dream that this Collaborative arrangement can pool resources to target the most needy children and families in our area and provide them the support they need to not only break the cycle of poverty, but to become our future leaders,” the agreement reads. “We are investing in the children with safe, educationally oriented programming available all day if needed. We are investing in children’s parents to allow students to continue their education, and we are investing in the community as we train interested candidates to become qualified providers for the critical shortage area of childcare professionals.”

The agreement places the responsibilities of staffing, management and oversight on the district. SMMUSD will also handle custodial support, maintenance and repairs.

Sixty-four children’s slots are funded through a contract between the state Department of Education and the local school district, while another 40 are covered through a partnership involving Head Start. The arrangement also relies on parent fees for some children.

Meanwhile, the agreement calls for childcare for up to 25 children of SMC students, faculty and staff. The children of SMC students, faculty and staff will receive priority when there are vacancies in the program.

The centers will be open 245 days of the year from 7:30 a.m. to 6 p.m. They will feature “developmentally appropriate” curricula as well as social service consultations, parent support and nutritious meals and snacks, according to the agreement.

SMC will underwrite the collaborative to a limit of $114,750, according to the agreement. The school district, which is aiming to operate the program on a break-even basis, will provide regular accounting updates to the college.

The community college has also agreed to supervise early childhood education students, provide training, assist with professional development and help with recruiting children for the preschool sites. One SMC teacher will be assigned to teach on-site.

Contact Jeff Goodman at 310-573-8351, jeff@www.smdp.com or on Twitter.

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