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MSAD 1 launching fee-based after school program

PRESQUE ISLE, Maine — Amid a shortage of childcare options for working parents, Maine School Administrative District 1 will be offering a new fee-based after school program beginning this fall.  

Starting Sept. 4, the first day of the 2018-2019 school year, parents with kids in kindergarten through sixth grade will have the option of a new after school program being offered in a partnership with the Champions education company.

“I’ve been working on this for a few years,” said LeRae Kinney, director of MSAD 1 adult and community education. “We’ve been doing a lot of the research and the groundwork to do a self-sustaining program within the community.”

Kinney said the district ended up partnering with Champions, a subsidiary of the KinderCare Learning Centers company, as a way to offer an afterschool program with an expert in the field.

“When we came across the Champions program, we found it is meeting all of the same goals and mission that we had,” Kinney said.

MSAD 1 will be the first district in Aroostook County offering a fee-based after school program, and the first district in the state contracting with Champions. Currently, other districts offer after school programs funded through federal grants, such as the 21st Century After School program at Washburn Elementary School.

Kinney said Champions’ after school program is based on a nationally accredited curriculum that offers activities rotating around different themes. During an open house for families on May 2, Kinney and others were showing students activities around the theme of spring gardening.

Kinney added that Champions also offers programming in computer science and robotics, which she said will pair well with the new computer lab at Zippel Elementary School, where the program will be based.

The after school program will start in the fall and run Monday through Fridays, including during school vacations and on teacher in-service days. Kinney said the district is considering offering the program during the summer vacation starting in 2019.

The after school program will cost $80 per child per week, with other options for students to attend for just one or several days, Kinney said. She said that the program will have discounts for military personnel and teachers.

The program starts immediately after school and parents can pick their kids up until 6 p.m. It will be staffed by a head teacher as well as education technicians.

Kinney said that the overall goal of the program is too fill a gap in child care for working parents in the area.

“Child care is huge. It’s a need that isn’t being met for a lot of our kids. We have kids who are going home to empty homes,” Kinney said. “As a working mom, I recognized the need in searching for childcare for my own children.”

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