In recent months, a series of meetings has been taking place in the Redwood area to find ways to address the growing need for childcare in the region.

Led by Briana Mumme, Redwood County Economic Development Authority (EDA) coordinator, the meetings have been attended by a number of local leaders, to include those from the Redwood Area School District.

While several ideas have been discussed, one that appears to be rising to the top is a community-based center, similar to that which is being offered in Franklin in conjunction with the Cedar Mountain School District.

Mumme and Bruce Tiffany, who has also been involved in the dialogue, met with the Redwood Area Board of Education June 25 during its regular meeting to talk about the potential role the school could play in the development of that center.

The question the school board was asked is whether or not it would be interested in serving as the fiscal host for a childcare program and to manage the program in terms of what is offered academically to the children who are part of it.

Mumme said the school district is an ideal entity to serve in those roles simply because it is something the school district is already doing in terms of education.

The challenge is finding the funds. Jim Buckley, school board member, said conversations he has had with Bob Tews, Cedar Mountain School District superintendent, indicate that the school district is helping subsidize the program with approximately $100,000.

Rick Ellingworth, Redwood Area School District superintendent, said it would be hard for the local school to take that amount of funding away from other educational programming. 

Mumme added the concept being worked on right now would include local businesses providing financial support to help subsidize the childcare program, with those businesses that do help with funding potentially receiving preference when it comes to placing children in the program.

“We would be set up to host and manage the program, because that is a reflection of what we already do here,” said Ellingworth.

Historically, the school district has been able to collaborate with other local units of government, such as the city and county, as well as with local business, and Ellingworth said he thinks that would happen with this kind of an initiative, too.

The question of a location for the program was also raised, and Mumme said that answer would hopefully come as the plan for government and private businesses to work together progresses.

No official action was taken during the meeting, but the members of the school board agreed to move forward as part of future dialogue.

In other action during its meeting, the local school board:

• Approved a three-year contract with Muser Environmental Consult-ing, Inc. for health and safety program management at a cost of $9,672.88 for the 2018-19 school year.

• Approved the preliminary budget for the 2018-19 school year, which includes anticipated revenues of $20,551,433 and expenditures of $20,500,831. According to Scott LeSage, school finance director, this is the first look the school board will have of the budget that will officially be adopted later in the year.

• Adopted a management plan to test its drinking water. Having taken a proactive approach, the board school district has had its drinking water tested. Results showed a detection level below two parts per billion. That classifies the water as non-detected for lead.

• Approved a contract with West Central Sanitation Services, Inc. for sanitation services at the school. The new contract will include a significant reduction in what the school will pay.

• Approved a request to enter into an agreement with Pat Dingels of the Redwood Area Development Corporation for grant writing services at a cost of $19.50 per hour for up to 30 hours. The intent is to utilize these services as a way to access funding for its new career and technical training center program.

• Approved several change orders as part of the career and technical training center project to include wall finishing, a water service upgrade and the replacement of some doors at a total cost of $5,158. The change order also included approximately $1,100 in deductions for the project.

• Accepted the resignation of Pete Nez from his role as assistant track coach, Pam Hopkins from her role as a paraprofessional and Jackie Kissner as a paraprofessional.

• Approved the addition of two extra-curricular advisory positions, including middle-school yearbook advisor and middle-school student advisory council advisor with a stipend of $761 for each position.

• Approved a request for finance consultation service with Scott LeSage at a rate of $50 per hour.