Kids’ Company program provides school transportation
By Melissa Priebe
In an effort to serve more students, the Watertown-Mayer School District announced plans to open a Kids’ Company child care site in Mayer, bussing students to schools in the district during the day.
The site, which will open in time for the new school year, will offer breakfasts, choice-based programming, outside activities, homework time and transportation between the sites and schools within the Watertown-Mayer School District. The program will be available both before and after school, and students will be bussed to school buildings during the day, providing a solution for those who can’t otherwise afford transportation to the rural district.
“Over the last two years, Amy and I have both heard from Mayer residents that they’d like to see more of a presence from our kindergarten education and our education as a whole,” said Director of Community Education Rachel Bender. “One of the ways we can offer support is through our site-based child care. “
The new program will operate from September to early June out of the Mayer Community Center, a building that used to be owned by the school district.
The program will be open to children age 3 through the sixth grade in public and private schools in and around the school district.
The space includes a council room, a hallway for check-in and check-out, upper and lower gym areas, a kitchen and storage areas. The building is also adjacent to Old Schoolhouse Park in Mayer, giving the kids room for outdoor learning and access to the nearby playground and baseball field.
“It’s a wonderful space for putting in an out of school-time program,” said Amy Dimmler, program coordinator. “It offers opportunities for small group activities and large group activities.”
“The program is going to be in a child care format,” said Bender. “We will provide kids with activities that will them to grow and nurture their development. All of our activities are based on the school-age indicators of progress.”
She said activities center on topics like STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) learning, language and literacy, and different choices will be available to the kids based on their age groups.
“Our goal for the program is to provide an enriching, safe, caring and recreational environment, where students can learn, have fun and be social – really working on all those developmental skills that children need to be successful.”
As many as 40 young people can join the program, which will have up to five staff in the morning and up to six staff in the afternoon. Run through Community Education, the program is expected to operate from 6:30-7:30 a.m. before the start of school, and from 3-6 p.m. after school lets out.
“We are being fiscally responsible with our staffing,” said. “We’re going to add a few staff, but we’re waiting to see what our numbers are.”
The Watertown-Mayer School District has entered into an annual lease agreement with the City of Mayer, and they will be leasing the property for about $2,600 per month.
“We really want to have a stable position in the community,” said Bender. “We are definitely in it for the long haul.”
“We’re trying to establish a stronger connection to the school district in Mayer,” said Superintendent Ron Wilke.
Wilke hopes the new child care site will fulfill a need in the Mayer community while helping the school district to recruit more students. He said a number of potential students live in Mayer and could attend Watertown-Mayer schools, but they don’t have transportation. With the number of new families moving into the area, the program also presents an opportunity for growth.
“Mayer is projected to see more growth than Watertown right now,” said Wilke, when he was sorting through the details of the lease agreement in early July. “There’s a lot of excitement. We’re committed to this project.”
The school district has included the new program in its budget projections for the years ahead, and the administration is optimistic about the new program. If it goes well, they will look into offering summer programming at the site or providing even more opportunities to families at the Mayer Community Center.
“It’s a prime location,” said Bender. “We provide that wrap-around service, so we can get them to and from school, and they can be picked up in Mayer at the end of the day.”
For more information about the program, call 952-955-0283.
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