Center Grove schools is making room at one of its buildings for almost 60 infants, toddlers and young children.
The school district plans to open a day care for its employees and students on Jan. 5. Center Grove had considered opening the day care this fall, but school officials will now have more time to hire staff, decide what kind of lessons the day care will use, set fees and complete all of the state’s licensing requirements.
Right now, no local school district has a day care center for staff or students. Offering child care is one way the school district hopes to retain quality workers. Earlier this year more than 80 employees replied in a survey they would consider using a Center Grove-run day care, assistant superintendent Bill Long said.
The school district has approved creating a new position for a day care director, and Center Grove will pay about $23,000 from its savings for the new director through the end of the school year.
Center Grove decided to hire its own day care director after visiting several other school district-run day care centers around central Indiana, including centers at Carmel-Clay schools, Bartholomew Consolidated schools, MSD Perry Township and MSD Wayne Township. All four of those school districts run the day cares themselves instead of contracting outside employees.
Earlier this year, the school board approved spending about $1.3 million to renovate part of its Professional Resource Center — formerly Maple Grove Elementary — to create classroom space for a new day care center and moving its special education preschool from Pleasant Grove Elementary School.
The hope is that, once the day care is running, most of the future operating costs will be covered by the fees paid by parents who use the facility, Long said.
“We’d like this to be a cost-neutral endeavor for the board, as far as staffing goes,” Long said.
Center Grove previously considered turning the Professional Resource Center into an early childhood center for the school district’s kindergartners. That plan was scrapped after school officials couldn’t find a practical way to get all of Center Grove’s kindergartners to one building. Opening the day care center is a way to serve the school district’s employees and students and prepare the children for kindergarten at Center Grove, Long said.
The director will be in charge of hiring and training the day care staff and will help create lessons for the day care, according to school board documents.
Center Grove’s day care will be licensed by the state, meaning it must meet specific training requirements and occupancy requirements and be prepared to pass on-site inspections. Center Grove has started the licensing process, as school officials want parents who decide to use the day care to be sure that their children are safe, Long said.
“While I think it’s a little bit more effort and work on our part, we felt it was worth it for our employees and our children,” he said.