Children in full-day kindergarten may not be the youngest students adapting to an elementary school environment next year.
With a waitlist of 70 preschoolers in the village, Warfield Preschool, with support from Trail and District Daycare Society, is pushing for the addition of a secondary program out of Webster Elementary School.
“It’s so important that we look at trying to get spaces for children because we find that families are moving into Trail and they want a little program for their children and there just is nothing available,” said Lynn Proulx, director of Sunshine Children’s Centre, a branch of the Trail and District Daycare Society that operates the Webster After School Care Program.
Sunshine also runs a preschool out of its East Trail location, where there are nearly 85 kids on up to a two-year waitlist.
“This is such a great opportunity because there is a potential of having 18 new spaces (for kids three- to-five-years-old) in the area and that is like gold,” added Proulx.
With the introduction of full-day kindergarten in September, Webster’s after-school care program for children five to 12 years old would like to share its newly renovated classroom with a preschool program ran by the village.
The Webster after-school program currently runs from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. for kindergarteners and 2:25-5 p.m. for older kids up to age 12. But next year, the earlier slot will be free for the less than three-hour program.
Rachel Jansen, a Warfield parent advisory council member, has heard from parents that like the idea
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of a preschool program operating at the school their children will eventually go to.
“The kids can go there as there preschool location, get familiar with the faces of the staff and familiar with the bigger kids that they might see in the hallway walking to the office,” said Jansen. “And parents get more familiar, too, when they’re coming to drop kids off and pick them up. You get that sense of community and sense of this is my school already.”
Recreation coordinator Teresa Mandoli is looking to establish the preschool at Webster, while still maintaining the program the village runs in the basement of the Warfield Hall.
While the village still has to get a license for the project to receive a green light, council is all in when it comes to further establishing Webster as a community-learning centre.
“I think this is a great idea, this is how we keep our community together,” said village councillor Tom Milne, whose opinion was echoed by fellow councillor John Crozier at last week’s regular meeting.
“There is no way you can’t support it, we have to, it’s our future,” he said.
Rising from a school district report that highlighted declining enrolment and possible school closures, Warfield’s outspoken parents found a way for the village’s school to be considered a community-learning centre last year.
After checking in February whether Webster was a suitable place to house a daycare, a cloakroom was quickly renovated into a washroom to satisfy requirements.
Warfield gave over $10,000 toward the maintenance and both Sunshine and the school’s parent advisory council split the approximate $5,000 cost for materials. The village also donated free labour.