School board approves daycare facility
July 2, 2020
The Hot Springs County School District has decided to move ahead with a daycare facility for use by district employees starting this fall.
In a special meeting last Thursday, Superintendent Dustin Hunt informed the board, with three different scenarios available for the start of the 2020-21 school year, now is the time to begin an in-house daycare for teachers and staff.
Hunt said with the three plans in play, the daycare would be the best way to keep the teachers in front of the students.
Having lost some daycare spots due to COVID-19 also adds to the necessity of getting it up and running, said Hunt.
The district has received preliminary approval from the Department of Family Services after a recent walk through of the proposed area.
In an open meeting with other daycare providers in town, there were some questions that arose.
Other providers were concerned about how the district was going to charge worried they would be undercut and lose clients.
Hunt said they have not settled on a specific price at this time, however he said they have a business plan in place as well as cost estimates and will be competitive in pricing, not significantly higher or lower than the providers already in business.
Another issue that worried the current providers is whether or not the district will have to abide by current regulations as they will be part of the school rather than a home based daycare.
Hunt assured them they will be following all the same protocols, even if they are not required to, as they want what is best for the children.
“We have great providers in Thermopolis, but we are also blessed to have many growing families in the district. Due to state regulations, it is not possible for our local providers to expand their openings,” Hunt said.
There were concerns raised about the affect this would have on the Lights On program as the area they’re looking at for the daycare would be the space currently used by that program.
According to Hunt, the daycare would have no impact on the programming for Lights On, however, they may have to move to a new space. The district will give them all the help they need to make that move as smooth as possible.
Federal funding through the CARES Act will be used to get the daycare up and running initially, but after speaking with other districts that have the same daycare solution in place, it will probably be close to self sufficient without a lot of input from the district, explained Hunt.
Hunt said the main thing to do now is to get the go-ahead from the board on creating the daycare and then they will be able to open up a position for a director. The director will lead them further on what will need to be purchased, how the daycare will look and guide them according to the regulations set by the state.
The Wyoming Department of Education is requiring all Wyoming Districts to submit back to school plans that indicate alternative plans should the need arise. The district is fortunate that trustee Nichole Weyer was chosen as a board member representative to serve on the Smart Start Committee put together by the Wyoming Department of Education, because it gives the district immediate insight into planning needs.
Within those plans, could be the requirement of students to have an altered schedule where they might attend part of the week digitally, and part of the week in person. Because teachers would need to be present to teach every group under this plan, their own children will need to have daycare available for teachers to serve all students equally.
The board unanimously approved the daycare and advertising for a director.