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Coal City district considering on-site child care

COAL CITY – Coal City School District is considering a new, on-site child care program that could better accommodate hectic schedules.

For a fee, the Kidz Zone program would provide before- and after-school care within Coal City’s elementary schools beginning at 7 a.m. and ending at 6 p.m. The YMCA-sponsored initiative already is used successfully in a handful of Grundy County schools, including Saratoga and White Oak elementary schools, said Missy Durkin, operations director for the Morris Community YMCA.

“It provides recreational programs for kids,” Durkin said. “Parents can drop their kids off prior to the start of school and have supervised care provided on-site at the school.”

The program would be offered to students in kindergarten through fifth grades.

A child’s typical day at Kidz Zone involves eating snacks, playing games, making crafts and doing homework, Durkin said.

Parent School Organization President Anne Watson said she thinks there are a number of parents who would use and benefit from the program.

“Our day cares are full,” she said. “I definitely think there are parents who would utilize this.”

At Wednesday’s board study session, school board members discussed adopting the new program next school year.

“The [school] board still has to approve it. They’re still looking at it,” District 1 Superintendent Kent Bugg said Thursday. “But I know they were very excited about it.”

If approved, the program would most likely begin with the 2014-15 academic year.

The program would come at a good time, Bugg said, as District 1 currently has no after-school child care within the schools and will begin phasing out one-and-a-half hazardous bus routes beginning next school year. Another regular route to the early childhood center will be cut in the 2015-16 school year.

The route changes stem from the district’s goal to trim $1 million from the budget over the next four years.

“If we have parents concerned that their kids won’t have bus service and they have to leave for work early, we would have this option available,” Bugg said.

Kidz Zone would be staffed and maintained entirely through the YMCA, so the program would have little to no effect on the district’s budget.

Potentially, the program could create a few part-time jobs for local residents, Durkin said, as the YMCA ideally would want to hire child care supervisors from nearby communities.

“It might work out well for moms in the area or anyone that might need that flexibility in the middle of their day,” Durkin said.

“The price would be extremely reasonable,” Bugg said. “They’re still working on the price, but it could come out to around $4 or $5 per hour.”

Durkin said pricing would be competitive compared to other agencies, and the YMCA could provide grants and other forms of assistance for those who qualify.

“The goal is to make sure nobody gets turned away,” she said.

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