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Tuition day care set for next year at Graves schools

Staff report

Five Graves County schools will start tuition day care in August.

The Early Eagle Academy Child Care program will be available to families with children younger than school age on a tuition basis with plans to open for the 2017-18 school year. The Graves County Board of Education approved the proposal at its March business meeting.

The project still is in its planning stages, school officials said, and the district is not taking applications at this time. However, administrators will announce application and other details as the program unfolds in coming weeks and months.

"What a tremendous response we already have gotten from people interested in our tuition-based child care at five of our schools, starting this fall," said Graves County Schools Superintendent Kim Dublin. "I know that our principals and many others in our district are getting questions about the Early Eagle Academy Child Care program. Primarily, people want to know about enrolling their children in day care and several adults are interested in employment. Our goal is to provide answers to those questions, establishing an application process for both. We expect to have answers by mid- to late April."

The day care hours of operation will be longer than a school day and the number of days it is open will differ from the school calendar, which helps meet the needs of many working parents, according to Melissa Bazzell, the Graves County Schools early childhood learning specialist.

The curriculum will help prepare children for school. The school district will adhere to licensing and regulation, as other child care programs do.

Bazzell told the board that among the 2,450 children aged birth to 5 years currently living in Graves County, established child care facilities only meet 23 percent of the need. She explained that funding changes have caused several facilities in Graves County to close in recent years, leaving a void.

The Early Eagle Academy Child Care program initially will serve between 120 and 150 children. It will occupy unused rooms at Fancy Farm, Farmington, Symsonia, and Wingo elementary schools as well as Graves County Middle School.

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