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Municipal 2018
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Minto ponders provision of after-school programs

by Patrick Raftis

MINTO - Town council has authorized staff to submit a proposal to the Upper Grand District School Board for provision of after-school programming for students in Grades 1 to 6.

Beginning last September, the provincial government required school boards across Ontario ensure the provision of before-and-after school programs in each elementary school for students in kindergarten to Grade 6 where there is sufficient demand.

In a report to Minto council at the Jan. 23 meeting, recreation services manager Matt Lubbers explained that Mayor George Bridge and Wellington County staff  asked Minto recreation services staff if the town could facilitate a program.

Lubbers pointed out the municipality is eligible to apply to run an authorized recreational program after school for students in Grades 1 to 6 (aged six or older). However, he noted, the town is not eligible to run any before-school programming or programming for children aged five and under. The County of Wellington will likely apply to run that program in their facility at Palmerston Public School this fall, Lubbers suggested.

“This leaves a potential need for after-school programming for kids of an age town staff work with in summer programs,” the report states. “The town could offer the program in the schools in Palmerston and/or Harriston. One challenge with moving locations is getting children from one site to another during the work day. Staff suggests phasing in a program starting in Palmerston (where County day care and before school program will be) and then expanding to Harriston in future years if demand is apparent.”

Lubbers pointed out the program could not likely be staffed with students, as the summer programs are.

“The town has some existing staff with social work/child care background, but they are not necessarily available every weekday from 3:30pm to 6pm. Any staff costs would need to be funded by the program,” he stated.

If the RFP is accepted, staff would need to develop a business plan for the service for council consideration, the report states.

“If we were to be successful we would then negotiate the details with the school board,” said Lubbers.

Councillor Mary Lou Colwell asked about the difference in regulation between the type of program the town could offer and before-school programs or those for children five and under.

“There’s still rules and regulations but they’re not near as stringent,” said Lubbers.

Bridge noted the town, if successful in the RFP, would be in uncharted territory for a municipality.

“There hasn’t been a town do this. It’s just new. Before we couldn’t have gone into this,” said Bridge, who added that the after-school programming is what’s needed locally. “There is not as much need before school as after school,” he stated.

Bridge said if the town doesn’t take on the programming it’s unlikely the void will be filled.

“Nobody will step up and take this RFP on. There’s just nobody,” the mayor stated, adding that in larger centres groups like the YMCA may provide programs.

“We haven’t got a community group that would take this on … I’m just so fearful that there’s kids out there that are probably eight or nine years old that are going home and locking the door until their parents get home,” said Bridge.

Council supported the resolution authorizing staff to submit an RFP.

 

February 9, 2018

 
 

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