North Richland is lacking a key service sought by the scientists, engineers and other smart folks who work at Pacific Northwest National Laboratory, Washington State University Tri-Cities and the Tri-Cities Research District — academic preschools.
The shortage of Montessori-style or other high-quality, academic-focused preschools has become somewhat of an issue in the recruitment and retention of staff, said Greg Koller, spokesman for the Department of Energy’s national laboratory in Richland.
The lab competes nationally and even internationally to attract scientists and engineers at the top of their research fields to Richland.
Daycare is available for their children, but more educationally focused preschools may either have long waiting lists or are not near the PNNL campus, Koller said.
Battelle, which operates PNNL for DOE, has been advertising in the Tri-Cities and Seattle, seeking providers of educationally focused preschools interested in locating near the PNNL campus.
Such a facility is not designed to compete with or supplant education-focused Montessori or similar facilities, but to add capacity to the limited options already available.
Greg Koller, PNNL spokesman
Since advertising began, Energy Northwest also has asked about the project, Koller said.
The advertisements note that PNNL is a STEM — science, technology, engineering and math — institution and a STEM curriculum would be of interest.
Brookhaven National Laboratory in New York and Argonne National Laboratory in Illinois have recently entered into agreements with early education preschool providers.
Although academic preschools are the biggest need, PNNL staff surveys show there also is interest in after-school, summer and school vacation academic programs in north Richland for elementary school children.
The announcement is only for preliminary planning purposes to gauge interest and capabilities in the educational community to construct a school in north Richland near PNNL. It would not be built on the PNNL campus.
“While Battelle and PNNL will be supportive of a new education preschool facility, we will not support it financially,” Koller said.
“Such a facility is not designed to compete with or supplant education-focused Montessori or similar facilities, but to add capacity to the limited options already available,” he said.
Responses to the ads are due May 15.