DECATUR — Decatur Public Schools leaders plan to offer a before- and after-school program for elementary and middle-school students next year, responding to what they said was a high level of parent interest.
The Decatur Board of Education on Tuesday approved a partnership with Innovation Learning, a Colorado-based provider of before- and after-school programs and summer camps. The cost will vary for families based on household incomes, officials said.
Superintendent Paul Fregeau said the new offerings were another component of the five-year strategic plan that aims to turn Decatur into a “destination district” for families.
“I am very excited,” Fregeau said. “This will really set us apart in this region.”
Feedback from Decatur families also weighed heavily in the decision. Ashley Grayned, the school district’s director of innovative programs, said the district sent out 607 surveys to DPS parents, and 90 percent responded in favor of the district offering before- and after-school student care.
“It was apparent that parents wanted before- and after-school care, and that was for a number of reasons,” Grayned said. “Whether it be due to conflicting work and school hours or simply that it was difficult for parents to maneuver multiple students to different schools, the parents expressed they wanted help, and that this was a good way for the district to offer it to them.”
The program will offer students STEM stations, homework support, tutoring, fitness, team building and social skill development, relaxation time and several other curriculum options, the district said.
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Grayned said there would be discounts for various circumstances, such as if the family receives state subsidies, if a parent is a member of the military or if a parent is employed by the district.
Innovation Learning Executive Director Brett Prilik said fees will be billed on a weekly or daily basis. Parents will not be locked into a contract, and they can sign up for either the morning or afternoon segment individually, or both.
“We will not turn students away because of financial difficulties,” he said.
The program will be offered at every elementary and middle-school facility in the district, officials said. Schedules will vary based on the school day for that building, but will be similar to one presented by Grayned on Tuesday: a program starting at 6 a.m. and one ending at 5:30 p.m.
Grayned said each program would be staffed by at least two people, a site director and a teacher. More teachers will be added based on how many students enroll, she said. There will be one teacher for every 12 students.
Innovation Learning has programs at more than 200 schools nationwide, including 13 in Illinois, all of which are in Chicago and its suburbs.
“This is a very exciting opportunity because we know we can make a difference here,” Prilik said.