No before, after school ECE programs at North Star

Staff

While the provincial roll out of full-day Junior Kindergarten will start at Atikokan’s North Star School this fall, the Rainy River District School Board has opted not to offer the extended day early learning program along with it.
The decision came at a special board meeting held last Friday, where trustees voted that a lack of interest from parents meant the extended program—which would offer parents the option of before and after school care for their kindergarten student for a fee—was not viable.
“Under the regulation now, if the projected enrollment is less than 10 pupils in at least one part of the program—just before school or just after school or both—you don’t need to run the program,” said RRDSB Superintendent of Business Laura Mills to the board about the program, which must operate at a cost neutral position for the board.
To meet the appropriate projected enrolment, up to 25 percent of the spots can be opened up to pupils in Grade 1 and 2 as well.
But two surveys of the parents at the North Star School, showed only six to nine of these spots would possibly be filled by children, noted Mills, and therefore could not be run at neutral cost to the board.
“We could operate the program with less students and charge an applicable rate,” she noted. “But that rate is going to be very large, and then not likely to get the demand in once they see the rate.”
Although the program was determined to be not viable for this year, the board was required by the province to set a fee, opting to set it as “Nil/not applicable.”
The extended day learning program with an early childhood educator is one aspect of the full day JK program being rolled out by the province over the next few years.
St. Patrick’s School in Atikokan will also be running full day JK in the fall of 2010, while St. Michael’s School and Robert Moore School were recently announced as the site for the program in the 2011-12 school year.