Council approves after-school program at Drayton Heights

MAPLETON – Council here has approved the operation of a municipal after-school program at Drayton Heights Public School.

During the June 30 meeting, council approved the operation of the program, including the hiring of program staff, by the township’s recreation department under an agreement with the Upper Grand District School Board.

On March 16, council authorized the recreation departments to complete the RFP process with board to operate an after-school program. The board has approved the application in a letter dated June 1.

A report from recreation manager Amy Grose indicates the after-school program will operate for three hours a day after school, running from end-of-day bell until 6pm. The program will have two designated, qualified staff to handle day-to-day operations with the support of the recreation manager.

The program will be open for children who attend Drayton Heights Public School in Junior kindergarten through Grade 6.

“After research into the operational cost of the program the Mapleton Recreation Department believes this program to be cost-neutral. Families would be required to pay the weekly fees to cover program costs,” Grose states in her report.

With 30 spaces available at $75 per child, Grose estimates the program will generate $2,250 a week. After deducting staffing costs and fees paid to UGDSB the township will be left with approximately $1,014 per week for any additional program operating costs.

Councillor Marlene Ottens wanted to know how easy it would be to add similar programming at schools in Moorefield or Alma in the future.

“Is that something that automatically happens once the first school in the municipality is established?” she asked.

“We would need to do a second application next year, or whenever council would decide to add an additional school. Once we can look at the success of the first program, then we will be able to see how we could go on to the next one,” Grose explained.

Ottens also asked how the program would accommodate low income families, “who can’t afford the fees but need the service”.

Grose explained the County of Wellington has approved an agreement to extend fee subsidies through the township to qualifying users of the program.

“I like the idea … of this program … philosophically,” said councillor Michael Martin. “I think my biggest concerns still are that it’s going to remain cost neutral. And then, it’s already been spoken about … consistent service level across the municipality.”

Martin said he would like to see annual reports confirming the continued “revenue neutral” status of the program.

“I’d really like to see … by the end of that three year term … this program gets extended across the municipality. I think, at that point … if it’s offered across Alma, Moorefield, Drayton, I think we could look at … maybe having some municipal subsidization or whatever on top of it if we need to, right? Because then it’s an opportunity for everybody across the township,” Martin added.

Mayor Gregg Davidson said it makes sense to start the program at the school with the largest number of students.

“We have to start somewhere. And I think … the largest population school would be the one to start out, to see if we can actually make a go out of this,” Davidson stated.

The motion to approve moving forward with the program was approved by council, unopposed.

North Wellington Community News