Madison-Plains releases proposed latchkey rates

(Posted Feb. 2, 2017)

By Sandi Latimer, Staff Writer

Madison-Plains Local Schools is sending letters to district residents outlining a proposed fee schedule for the latchkey child care program that starts this fall.

At a special school board meeting on Jan. 25, Superintendent Tim Dettwiller stressed that the proposed fees are based on participation of 30 students and patterned after the rates Jefferson Local Schools charges.

“We want to know how many kids we’ll have,” he said. “Parents want to know the cost.”

The district has contracted with the Madison-Champaign Education Service Center to operate a latchkey program before and after school hours. The decision to offer the service came after parents expressed concern about child care needs stemming from the district’s plan to start two-tiered bussing next school year.

Under the plan, older students will be bused to school first; the younger children will be bused on a second run. Older students will be released first, then the younger children go home on a second run.

“We want to get something out there to see what the interest is,” Dettwiller said, noting that February is registration month.

The fee proposal includes a full-time option: $75 per week for the first child and $55 for the second child for five days of morning and afternoon care. The part-time option would cost $40 per week for the first child and $35 for the second child for five days of morning or afternoon care.

If a family needs latchkey services just one day a week, the cost would be $20 a day for one child and $15 for a second child for morning and afternoon. The one-day cost for morning or afternoon would be $12 for the first child and $10 for the second child.

The service would be open five hours a day, 176 days a year, coinciding with the school schedule. Hours would be from 6 a.m. until the start of classes and then after classes until 6 p.m.

Morning students would be sent to the gym upon arrival. They would also be eligible for breakfast. Structured activities would be offered. For afternoon students, structured activities would take place in various labs or the library and outdoors when possible.

“I’ve used latchkey in the past and it was beneficial,” said new school board member Anthoula Xenikis, the mother of three Madison-Plains students.

Board members showed the concern over the proposed costs.

“Can we have the flexibility to change?” asked Mark Mason.

Bob Butz and Mike Datz went back and forth on costs.

“If we get more than 30 (participants), do the costs go down?” asked Datz.

Butz asked, “If we don’t get 30, do we raise the costs?”

“We don’t know how many people are going to respond,” Dettwiller said.

Board President Kelly Cooley wanted to know what happens when children are not picked up by closing time.

“If I was five minutes late, I had to pay up,” Xenikis said about overtime pay.

District Finances

Board members accepted the revised five-year forecast presented by Treasurer Todd Mustain that shows the district headed into the red.

The district has funding to carry it through the current school year and the 2017-18 year, but then a deficit looms.

“You can’t start school the next year knowing you’re going to be in the red,” Mustain said of 2018-19.

District leaders have acknowledged the looming deficit and have talked about putting an operating levy on the ballot, but no action has been taken to date.

“We also have a permanent levy coming due,” Dettwiller said.

Mustain’s five-year forecast figures were used to produce a 10-year forecast that board members discussed in a lengthy work session that followed an executive session where members discussed personnel matters and conferred with an attorney.

The next regular Madison-Plains school board meeting is scheduled for 7 p.m. Feb. 21 in the board conference room in the elementary building. For additional district information, visit www.mplsd.org.

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