New day care to open
Weyauwega-Fremont school fills demand in child care ‘desert’
By James Card
When W-F District Administrator Phillip Tubbs started in 2019, he challenged himself with this question: Why are some families leaving the school district?
He studied the data but needed more information. He contacted more than 80 families – by phone, email and in-person – and learned that 16 students were pulled out solely because the family did not have access to day care.
“I found we are in a desert,” he said, referring to the Weyauwega’s lack of day care options for parents.
He pitched the idea of a day care center to the school board and explored partnership options with other day care centers in the region. Then the pandemic came along and all parties backed out.
He went back to the school board.
“Right now our only option is to wait and see what happens with this wave of COVID, or we just take the bull by the horns and do it ourselves knowing that it could be a licensing nightmare,” he said. The school board agreed to give it a try and move forward.
Now the day care center will soon be a reality and the planned start date is March 1, 2022 if construction is completed and there are no supply chain delays for materials.
Day care will be for 3 and 4-year-old children. The center will be located in the old choir room, which is in the front of the middle school so it will be easy for parents to drop off their kids.
Adjacent to the entrance is some green space that will be converted to a fenced-in playground area for the students. Playground construction will start later in the spring of 2022 as warmer weather arrives.
There will be rates for full day, half day and weekly. The cost for a full-time weekly rate will be $190. Busing will not be available for the 3-4 year olds but children in the 4K program can ride the school bus.
The center will operate from 6 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday through Friday. They will not be open on holidays but will be open during the school breaks.
This summer they hired Hope Steiger as the director. She helped launch the day care in Shiocton.
Tubbs said the progress of opening the day care center would not be where it is today without Steiger’s expertise and experience.
The center will hire day care workers and Tubbs said they would be offering above-average wages with the goal of attracting and retaining a quality staff.
High school students studying construction have started the remodeling under the guidance of their technical education teacher and are getting hands-on work experience.
During one work session, a smoke detector was not covered and a wall was dropped, creating a lot of dust and the school had an impromptu fire drill.
The class will build a “pony wall,” or a half wall that will divide the day care and will maximize occupancy with separate areas for both 3 year olds and 4 year olds. There will be a foyer area for parents to sign in.
The old choir room is next to the cafeteria, which makes it easy to shepherd the kids to lunch. In the cafeteria is a stage that will be walled off and it will be used as a multi-purpose room for the day care.
With the square footage they have they are aiming to enroll 40-50 students. A website will be online soon with enrollment information.
“From talking to surrounding day cares, most of them have wait lists going into July of 2022 for all ages. I think we will fill up pretty quick,” said Steiger.