Published On: Thu, Jun 22nd, 2017

Randolph School Board approves daycare

RANDOLPH — Randolph School Board members voted Monday to allow the a nonprofit group to create a daycare learning center and to direct and staff it.
Rule 11, daycare considerations for the daycare, were discussed and were not selected at this time.
Opposition to the daycare learning center was expressed by audience members Dan Backer and Alice Goetsch.
“I came to express opposition to putting a daycare in the elementary,’’ Backer said.
The drive for a community daycare and learning center is being pushed by Community Development Director Gary Van Meter. Van Meter brought up a few addendums to the board and additions to his last presentation.
A board of individuals guided by Van Meter will oversee and manage the daycare and find individuals or a company to fulfill the needs of caring and educating young children. This group will have their own tax exempt status for individuals to make donations to the daycare.
Van Meter presented an exit strategy if the project would happen to fail, a financial plan for the project, a Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats analysis, and information on the child development center’s target for human brain development with information on the forming of neural connections for different functions within a child’s brain and their importance in later life.
The project is based on a Public-Private Partnership model.
“This means it is public and will utilize buildings already built within the school,’’ Van Meter said. “This partnership will benefit both sides. Nebraska is rated fifth in the nation for families with both parents working. These parents with children need daycare. This daycare is not just watching kids. This project will focus on a child’s first formative years within a secured facility.’’
Board members expressed their support for this approach to the childcare learning center.
“If this effort doesn’t work, I feel exploring other efforts after this would be throwing good money after bad,’’ Board member Sandy Owens said. “After trying this, if a nonprofit can’t make it work, a school-effort will be so much more expensive.’’
“School board members could be different later and may vote to add a more expensive approach through a Rule 11 daycare in the school,’’ Backer said. “That’s why I am here. Once the daycare is within the school it will be hard to remove it and board members will feel obligated to continue it, regardless of cost. It has been my experience that common sense does not always exist in education.’’
“I think there are other board members with me. I have said that is my line in the sand for this project,’’ Board member Lisa Linville said.
Backer said several years ago when he was on the board and levy considerations were different, this project would not have been something the board could even consider. Times change and board members change, although there was a time when you didn’t mix private business with public funds, he said.
“No one wants to walk away from a project once it gets started within the school,’’ Backer said. “If it doesn’t fly, this will be a back door way for the school to end up running the project.’’
Board member Cody Backer said he feels like the board has to do something.
“We cannot always look at the bad that may happen. Then we don’t see the good. When you are my age and have kids, you have to have a place to take them,’’ Cody Backer said.
Board member Jim Scott agreed and also expressed support for the project.
“I believe in Randolph. I believe in this community and the efforts by the City of Randolph with the flood project. I may be an optimist, but I believe in what these people are doing,’’ Scott said.
Board member Paul Schmit agreed and said a school-effort would be more expensive and this is a good way to tie a project in with the community.
“Young school staff members have been waiting to see what is going to happen with this project,’’ Principal Dennis Bazata said. “Staff members are very aware of the daycare shortage and are truly concerned about class sizes in Randolph.’’
Principal Mary Miller said this project could make a difference to help the school be ahead in the future.
“This could make Randolph some place that students want to attend school at and keep the school alive,’’ Miller said. “It isn’t much fun to have small class sizes. This project allows us to utilize the space we have and is something that our staff members feel strongly about. The director of the childcare learning center would be certified.’’
Goetsch asked if by hiring teachers for the childcare learning center the school would lose too much money and if it would be only a daycare if that would save money.
Miller said staffing for the center depends on the ratio and number of children and even home-centered efforts need to follow rules and ratios.
“There is going to be learning going on with this effort. Teachers will make sure that is in place and keep curriculum straight,’’ Van Meter said.
“I feel like this is a tipping point for our community,’’ Supt. Jeff Hoesing said. “This could make the difference. I see other area schools growing enrollment because of community efforts and not because their schools are better than ours. This is one way to add something that may encourage people to come here or stay here. Being a good school is not enough.’’
Hoesing and Owens said the school still is going to need parents’ efforts for this project and for the benefit of children. Home life is different than it used to be.
“Kids haven’t changed,’’ Hoesing said. “Intuitive parents have always done their best for children. I don’t feel we necessarily need to be pushing them to learn large amounts of information at an early age. The question becomes who should provide enrichment for children.’’
Van Meter said this effort can provide a structured enrichment environment with staff to guide families.
The exit strategy would include preserving and conserving and perhaps reducing salaries rather than ending staff employment for the childcare center, if needed.
A possible career academy could be created if the daycare does not succeed, it was noted.
Profits from the daycare childcare center could possibly be returned somehow to parents if the board would decide it. Van Meter suggested this if the center is successsful enough.