Statement from Richland One the construction of Vince Ford Early Learning Center

January 22, 2024

We were notified today (January 22, 2024) by State Superintendent of Education Ellen Weaver that she has requested “an independent inquiry by the Office of the State Inspector General” regarding the construction of Vince Ford Early Learning Center.

Richland One recognizes the positive impact that early childhood education has on student outcomes, and we have been working to increase such access for our youngest learners. For the past 10-15 years, we have been exploring establishing early childhood centers and increasing the number of 3K and 4K classes across the district.

One of the areas in greatest need was determined to be the Lower Richland area of the district. In December 2022, the Richland One Board of School Commissioners approved the expenditure of funds for an early learning center in the Lower Richland community.

The district was in the process of clarifying any issues or concerns regarding zoning and programming, and we made the decision to halt construction on the center effective January 19, 2024 until those matters were clarified. We welcome any inquiry from the Inspector General’s Office.

Richland One continues to be good stewards of taxpayer dollars, as evidenced by 35 consecutive years of national and international awards for excellence in governmental accounting and financial reporting.