Carroll Community School District noted in the past year that there was a need for additional childcare in the area, and it’s helping to fill that need with the brand-new TigerZone program, set to open this week.
TigerZone, being held at Fairview Elementary School, is a before- and after-school care program open to students in kindergarten through fourth grade and will begin this Thursday, Aug. 20.
There are 25 spots each for before- and after-school care; the afternoon spots are filled, although parents can join a waiting list, but there still are some spots open in the morning group.
The program is open to any students, although most taking advantage of it are Carroll students, said Patrick Rabbitt, the new Fairview and Adams elementary schools principal.
“One of the things we look to do is try to provide opportunities for students to get to school,” Rabbitt said. “Sometimes there’s challenges for parents, and we like to meet the needs of not only the students but also the families that send their kids here. We realize there’s some folks who have to work early in the morning and don’t get off work until later, and we wanted to help them. Anything we can do to support students is what we do here at Carroll.”
The program runs Monday through Friday when school is in session and is not available during the summer.
Before-school care is offered from 6:30 to 7:45 a.m., and after-school care is offered from 3:05 to 6 p.m. Longer periods of care, up to a full day, are available on days that schools close early or completely for professional development.
Students who attend Adams Elementary School will be transported to Adams after the morning program ends, and back to Fairview after school.
TigerZone is one of the initiatives that Casey Berlau, who just finished up his first year as superintendent at Carroll Community School District, has been working on with school officials in the past year.
Berlau, who noted that recently-retired Elementary Principal Sue Ruch worked extensively with him to help set up TigerZone, said he heard when he first came to Carroll last year from school board members and others that the district could benefit from a wraparound, or before- and after-school, program. School officials learned from a parent survey that there was interest in the program.
“Mrs. Ruch made visits to several schools who had programs, and we learned that the best thing to do is to start a program with the facilities you have and start small,” Berlau said. “The easiest entry point for us was a before- and after-school program, because we had space that we could use and we felt we could utilize some of our own staff.”
TigerZone will offer a variety of activities for participating students, with various stations to work on and opportunities to go outside.
“One of the things we have to do is provide opportunities for engagement, so we’re coming up with different activities for them to do,” Rabbitt said. “We’ll try to vary it enough so that kids aren’t doing the same thing each day.”
Activities will offer students opportunities in problem-solving, exploration, play, music, movement, art, writing, listening and storytelling, according to the TigerZone handbook, available on the Fairview Elementary School page at www.carrolltigers.org.
If parents or teachers recommend it, participating students also could be given time to work on homework during the childcare program.
Snacks will be available for students based on how long they’re at TigerZone each day, with lunch being offered as well during the all-day sessions.
The program will follow the school’s protocol for coronavirus-related social distancing, with face coverings recommended but not required, as many outdoor activities as possible offered, and efforts made to help children spread out during the program.
“We will do our very best to minimize opportunities for spread (of coronavirus),” Rabbitt said.
The program’s cost is broken down as follows:
— $6 per day for one child and $4 per day for each additional child for before-school care.
— $9.45 per day for one child and $6.65 per day for each additional child for after-school care.
— $14.50 per day for one child and $10.15 per day for each additional child for both before- and after-school care.
— $18 per day for one child and $12.60 per day for each additional child for after-school care when the district dismisses two hours early for professional development.
— $29 per day for one child and $24 per day for each additional child for all-day care on days during the school year when the district is not in session for professional development days.
There also is a one-time, annual, non-refundable $40 registration fee for each family. Families will be billed monthly for the program.
Julie Chumbley, a teacher’s associate at Fairview Elementary School, will serve as the TigerZone director, and about four other certified people will work at the program at various times. Guidelines based on the number of student participants mandate that at least two employees are present during the program, Rabbitt said.
Staff members will be certified in first aid and CPR, and the school will have processes in place for illnesses or injuries during the program.
“We feel we have a good program to offer our families, and we are excited to do so,” Berlau said. “We will evaluate it as we go and look to grow and improve the program. Julie Chumbley, our director, has done a great job, and Mr. Rabbitt has stepped in and taken over where Mrs. Ruch left off. I must emphasize that Sue Ruch did a great job getting the program ready to start before she retired.”
The program is limited to 25 students for now because of the space available, but it could expand in the future, Rabbitt said.
Those interested in learning more about the program, signing their kids up or getting on a waiting list can contact Fairview Elementary School at 712-792-8030.