A month into the academic year, the Lonedell R-XIV School District’s daycare program is off to a successful start even though officials were forced to organize it and get it up and running at the last minute.

The board of education decided during its July meeting to go through with trying to offer the before and after school care even after the Four Rivers Area YMCA in Washington didn’t follow through as expected with a commitment to help.

“I feel like it’s at a level where we can sustain it,” Lonedell Superintendent Jen Ulrich told The Missourian. “It’s been successful so far, and we believe it will continue to grow.”

Latest numbers available from the school district have 13 children in the after-school and three in the before-school program.

“If this is a resource we can offer the community, we want to do it,” Ulrich said. “We don’t have daycares in our area. There just aren’t a lot of resources like that for parents. So, we decided we wanted to help.”

Sharon Knickmeyer is serving as director. Gail Stahlman is leading the after-school program while Jane Green is working before school starts in the morning.

“We are hopeful that the program will continue to grow,” Knickmeyer said last week. “We are very pleased we are able to offer this program to our families in our district.”

The cost varies depending on the number of days and the number of siblings. There are discounts provided for multiple-student families.

If one child attends both before and after school every day during the week, it costs $3.50 per day in the morning and $7.50 in the afternoon. Times are from 6 to 7:15 a.m. before school and from 2:45 to 6 p.m. after school.

Additional fees can be obtained by calling the school at 636-629-0401.

Ulrich said the district is not trying to make money through the program, but it needs to break even.

“We’re committed to this through the end of this school year,” she said. “After that, I’m sure we will continue it, but we will evaluate and see what changes we need to make.

“I feel we have a very solid foundation for it. So far, everyone seems to be pleased with how it’s going. It’s been a team effort.”

Ulrich reported to the R-XIV board of education on Monday night that so far, the daycare is slightly in the red but “holding its own.” She said she remains hopeful more parents will take advantage of the service.

One parent who has is Dan Sitz, who addressed the school board on Monday during the group’s September meeting.

“I just want to thank you for getting the before- and afterschool program going,” he said. “I know it was a big undertaking, but it’s been a big help to my wife and me. We both really appreciate it.

“We really need for it to continue. It’s been a lifesaver.”

Own Service

In late July, the school board decided that the district would develop its own daycare after the need was expressed by several parents in the district.

Originally, the program was going to be set up and operated by the Four Rivers YMCA, but Ulrich said last month that she had issues in getting a commitment from YMCA personnel to organize it and then run it.

Ulrich said there also was some disparity between the two entities on the potential number of students who have signed up and would use the program and that trying to get the program up and running through the YMCA over the summer had been more difficult than expected.

Ulrich also told the board last month that the YMCA needed a commitment from the school of at least 15 students before it would establish the program.

“They (YMCA) are not moving forward with preparing a program in our district,” Ulrich said during the board’s July meeting.

The superintendent said about 12 parents attended a meeting on the subject earlier this year, and that the majority of those in attendance stated that they intended to enroll their students in the daycare.

The discussion led to board President Kathy Reed saying that, “I’m concerned with the YMCA’s lack of organization with this.”

The talk then turned to whether Lonedell could create and offer the program on its own.

“As long as we could cover our costs, it’s a service I want to provide our community,” Ulrich said in July, adding that she and Principal Sue Emmons would do the work in establishing the daycare. “Our survey showed that it’s needed.”