Officials held a groundbreaking ceremony for Santa Monica College’s Early Childhood Lab School this week.

When complete, the facility will hold up to 110 children (with a minimum of 30 percent Santa Monica residents and 15 percent low-income) and will be operated by the Growing Place.

“It also will be a setting for students in the renowned SMC Teacher Academy to fulfill their practicum requirements,” said SMC in a statement. “SMC students will observe and document child development under the guidance of the college’s distinguished faculty members. SMC became the first Southern California community college to get national accreditation for its Early Childhood Education (ECE) degrees, a distinction earned in 2017.”

The Early Childhood Learning Lab will replace 230 parking spaces in the parking lot of the Civic Center and is one of two projects scheduled for the lot. A sports field is also in the planning process but has yet to clear the Coastal Commission.

Despite a light rain, the groundbreaking drew representatives from City Hall, Santa Monica College, the Rand Corporation and a few protestors who have said the ECLS will jeopardize the sports field without providing enough benefits to residents.

SMC Board member Dr. Louise Jaffe said the event was a great start for local youth.

“The creation of the Early Childhood Lab School speaks volumes about our community,” she said. “It says the well-being of our children is a civic priority.”

Councilwoman Gleam Davis said the facility is an example of what can be accomplished when organizations work together.

“This lab school is hope, a promise that we can move to a gold standard so (students) can come to school and succeed,” she said.

The school is expected to open in Fall of 2020.