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School late start in Milton still unsettled

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NEIL W. JOHNSON
January 17, 2012
— The Milton School Board wants more details on options for before-school daycare services before it votes on a plan for a handful of late-start days next year.

The board was slated to take action Monday on a plan that would replace a system of five early release days for teacher and staff professional development with monthly late-start days in 2012-13.


However, it voted to table a decision even though it already approved next year's school calendar with late-start days slated on the third Monday of each month.


Some board members were concerned the district hadn't gathered enough information for working parents with young children about what before-school daycare services could be available.


Under current plans, late-start days would kick off at 10 a.m. and bus routes would start late.


Superintendent Mike Garrow told the board that school administrators have been in talks with the YMCA of Northern Rock County, Lutheran Social Services and Small Wonders Daycare—the district's three childcare providers—about possible morning daycare services for younger students on late-start days.


Rates could run about $5 an hour, Garrow said, but he didn't have full cost figures for services. Parents would have to pay and provide transportation to daycare.


The district hasn't decided if it would house any of the services at district schools, Garrow said.


That was a sticking point for board member Wilson Leong, who said he had "serious concerns" about approving the late-start model before parents know more about available options.


"We really haven't come up with a concrete solution," he said. "The parents don't really have a choice."


Leong said he's thinking about people who have inflexible work schedules.


"It's easy for us to say most businesses are reasonable. I don't really know it to be true," Leong said. "People want to keep their jobs."


Lori Davis, a parent at Monday's meeting, told The Gazette she was told one of the district's childcare providers would charge a $90 per-child registration fee for before school daycare on late-start days. Garrow said he could not confirm that.


Board member Tom Westrick asked the district to have a list, on paper, of all of its late-start daycare options by the board's Jan. 30 meeting.


The late-start plan is intended to allow teachers and staff to meet regularly and decrease the amount of times they are pulled from classrooms for in-service in the middle of the school day, district officials say.


The board's curriculum committee pushed the plan forward last month. Board member Jon Cruzan said late-starts would give teachers a chance to collaborate more on district goals.


Studies show productivity is better for students in the afternoon than in the morning, Garrow said. Late starts would give students more general instructional time than early releases.


"This isn't something the school district is pulling out of thin air," Cruzan said.


Board member Betsy Lubke said she doesn't believe parents are against teachers having more time to improve instruction and services for students. Still, she said it could quell some uncertainty for parents to know the locations and costs of daycare options.


"I think if we can be more specific about those options, we'll have more buy-in from parents," she said.



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