Every elementary school in the Puyallup School District will offer on-site before- and after-school child care beginning this fall.
The school board on Feb. 7 approved a contract with a new provider, an Illinois-based company called Right at School. The contract runs through June 30, 2018, but will automatically renew each year unless the district or the company ends it.
The for-profit company operates in schools around the country, including in Illinois, California, Texas and New York.
The contract means families at all 21 elementary schools can choose to pay for on-site before- or after-school care for their kids.
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The program will operate from 6:30 a.m. until morning bell and from dismissal to 6:30 p.m. It also will also be open for the district’s weekly late-start Mondays.
Previously, care was offered by the YMCA at 11 sites for students at 16 of the district’s elementary schools, with some sites serving kids who bused in from other schools. The idea to offer care at every elementary school came from the district’s PTA Council.
This is an opportunity to extend learning
Vince Pecchia, Puyallup School District administrator
The Y has offered care for kids in the district for 25 years, according to Michelle LaRue, spokeswoman for the YMCA of Pierce and Kitsap Counties. It also operates child care programs in other area school districts, including Tacoma, Bethel and elsewhere.
“Puyallup has been a great partner,” she said. “We are committed to them through the end of the school year.”
Vince Pecchia, chief instructional leadership officer for the school district, said the district explored programs from the Y and other vendors but Right at School offered the most flexible options for families and a “well-organized curriculum.”
Cindy Lawson of Right at School said the rate for before- and after-school care five days a week is $419 a month. After-school care for five days will cost $325 a month. (That compares to the YMCA’s current rate of $399 a month for five-day before- and after-school care and $316 for five-day after-school care only.)
Right at School will give parents the option of paying for as few as one day of care a week. It will also offer discounts ranging from 10 percent to 20 percent for families with multiple siblings, free- and reduced-price lunch students, and military families. The biggest discounts will be for Puyallup School District staff members, who receive a 35 percent discount.
In addition, the school district will receive 7.5 percent of revenues from the child care operation. The district has chosen to share 2 percent of each school’s child care revenue with the school.
Pecchia said the current arrangement with the Y, which rents space for its programs from the district, nets the district about $11,000 annually once utility and maintenance costs are factored in. He said officials don’t know if the new program will generate more or less money for the district.
But he said the biggest attraction for the district is Right at School’s curriculum, which is aligned with district needs. The program offers homework help, fun learning and engaging activities, he added.
“This is an opportunity to extend learning,” Pecchia said.
Right at School is the new provider of child care services at Puyallup schools
Lawson said her company’s curriculum is written by education experts, supports education standards and is designed to make learning fun and hands-on.
“It’s a disguised learning approach,” she said.
One example she described is a lesson called Gas in a Bottle. Kids always laugh at predictable jokes about passing gas, she said. But they also learn about the digestive system while they’re laughing.
Other units focus on geography, fitness, history and culture. There is also time for unstructured play, quiet reading, art and outdoor activities, Lawson said.
Not all public schools offer onsite care for kids. In Tacoma, a combination of programs are offered from several providers, including the Y, the Boys & Girls Club and others. But those services are most often found at schools where parents have the means to pay for them.
In the Bethel School District, both the Y and the Boys & Girls Club serve multiple schools. In the Clover Park School District in Lakewood, only two schools offer before- and after-school care, both from the YMCA.