Knightdale considers before-school care for Track 4 schools

mhankerson@newsobserver.comDecember 26, 2013 

— In an effort to better use staff and provide for students at two elementary schools, the Knightdale Parks and Recreation Department has proposed to start a new before-school program to help students and parents at Knightdale’s two single-track year-round schools.

“Hopefully this will be a great opportunity for us to serve the parents who need the before-school program who need to get to work a little earlier,” said Parks and Rec Director Tina Cheek.

As proposed, Knightdale’s program will begin at 6:45 a.m. and drop students off at their schools between 7:45 and 8:15 a.m.

Wake County schools can create and operate their own before-school programs, but there was only one before-school program that matched the single-track schools’ schedules. Lockhart Elementary, which is also a single-track year-round school, has a program but it’s often at capacity.

Hodge Road Elementary is also a single-track school. Cheek said her department often gets calls about a before-school program, since the town has an after-school program and offers track out camps for students during the times when their schools are tracked out.

Wake County charges $510 a year for before-school care that runs from 6:45 a.m. to 7:45 a.m., when students are dropped off at their school. Knightdale will charge $150 per session, coming to $600 for a full school year if a student is on a single-track schedule.

The program would operate from the Chamber of Commerce building, the same space after-school and track out programs are held.

Right now, Cheek said she isn’t sure what kinds of activities will be offered, but there are various forms of entertainment already at the location, like a television, ping-pong table and allowing some time outside is a consideration as well.

“Since it’s so early in the morning, we'll gauge (what kinds of activities to offer) as the kids come in,” Cheek said.

Using the town’s resources more

In addition to providing for parents, the before-school program will allow Parks and Rec to utilize some of their staff during otherwise slower times of the year.

The Parks and Rec Department has a few ‘limited service employees,’ which Cheek described as being like part-time employees. They help during track-out camps and with afterschool programs, but while single-track schools are in session, it often slows down.

“(This program) let us utilize our camp staff during some slow periods,” Cheek said. “Track 4 is our busiest track (and this will) be time for them to work in the mornings.”

And since Wake County provides transportation for the school’s afterschool program, the Knightdale Parks and Recreation bus will get some use during its normal break.

The department’s bus is used throughout the year for field trips and track-out camps, but it often isn’t used in the morning. With the before-school program, it will get more use as it will be driven by a licensed Parks and Rec employee to bring students to school.

The department calculated it would take only 10 students to have a full return on the cost of the program. The town’s investment would come to about $6,000 per year. Cheek said the department will likely cap the program at about 20 students to begin and will consider allowing more if the need arises.

The program would kick off Jan. 23, 2014 if council members give their OK.

Hankerson: 919-829-4826; Twitter: @easternwakenews

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