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Baraboo schools increase Kid Stop fees to address program deficit

Susan EndresMay 24, 2019

After two years of running a deficit, Baraboo’s public school child care program will increase registration and other fees starting this fall.

The Kid Stop program had a $25,000 shortfall last year and an estimated $50,000 shortfall this year, eating into its fund balance, according to school administrators. On top of needing to make it solvent, program supervisor Amy Fassbender said fees need to be higher to pay for improvements recently mandated by the Wisconsin Department of Children and Families.

“I think it’s going to just enhance our program, but obviously in order to do all of those activities, we do need some resources and funds to be able to recuperate that cost,” Fassbender said.

She said rates haven’t increased in at least seven years.

Next school year, the Kid Stop registration fee will rise from $10 to $15 after the Baraboo School Board approved a proposal Monday. Before-school programming will cost $4 per child per day — $1 more than current fees — and after-school programming will increase to a flat $6 per child per week excluding Wednesdays, which is $1-3 more than currently. Because of early release from school on Wednesdays, Kid Stop’s after-school program runs an additional two hours, so the fee per child on Wednesdays will be $10, an increase of $5-7.

Fassbender said a comparison of rates at other after-school programs found Kid Stop was “substantially under” what competitors charge. She noted its affordability is an intentional feature of Kid Stop, but changes to state regulations require the district to add certain programming, which increases costs.

Summer registration fees will remain the current $15, but its daily rate of $13 per child will bump up to $18. Kid Stop’s late fees also are currently far under what other programs charge, Fassbender said. Instead of parents having to pay a $1 per child penalty for every 5 minutes they’re late in picking the child up, the program will charge $15 per child after 5 minutes and additional charges after 30 minutes.

With the new fees, Kid Stop’s revenue will increase by about $106,000, according to projections included in board meeting materials. Expenses are expected to increase by about $41,000 next year.

At an earlier Finance Committee meeting, Fassbender recommended a slightly higher increase than the board later adopted under the proposal. She said the higher fees would help the program be sustainable in the long term and provide the necessary staffing and enrichment activities.

However, committee members Sean McNevin, Tim Heilman and Gary Cummings forwarded the first proposal to the full school board.

“My hope would be that we keep it as affordable as possible,” McNevin said. “Fortunately we’re not in a business environment that we need to make some kind of return on investment. I prefer to keep it at a break-even.”

McNevin said he was concerned about families deciding to take their children to competing programs, but District Administrator Lori Mueller said Kid Stop will still be the most affordable option in the area.

All Wisconsin child care centers have to comply with YoungStar regulations, Fassbender said. Under the new standards, Kid Stop will implement activities that relate to various educational subjects, including health, STEM — science, technology, engineering and math — and literacy.

“It’s really exciting because it’s a great opportunity for our students to be able to, you know, just be exposed to so many more different things with the program,” Fassbender said.

In other action Monday, the school board:

Accepted resignations from Jackie Amant, Baraboo High School literacy coach; Andy Waldvogel, BHS counselor; and Laura Stigen, Gordon L. Willson special education teacher.Approved hiring Nicole Tryon, Jack Young Middle School speech and language pathologist; Katie Medema, school social worker; and JYMS math teachers Vanessa Toll, Michael Bargender and Rachel Mohrmann.Authorized job postings for a high school literacy/instructional coach and school counselor and an elementary special education teacher.

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