With declining balances each of the past four years, the Estherville Lincoln Central School Board Monday approved to dissolve the Estherville Child Care Center, or school daycare, at the end of the current fiscal year on June 30, 2013.
However, to sustain the program that long, rates will be increased in January 2013.
The board approved a 48 percent rate increase that takes effect in 2013. For full-time participants, rates will increase $1.37 per hour and for toddlers, rates will increase $1.18 per hour.
For part-time participants, rates will increase $1.25 per hour.
Paul said there are currently 87 kids in the program-six infants, 25 toddlers and the remaining 46 in after-school program. Of the 25 toddlers, eight of them are part-time.
After nearly an hour and a half of reviewing relevant information, both board actions came following the recommendations of ELC Superintendent Tara Paul.
"It's a head vs. heart situation," said Paul. " The business side says it's not good business."
In earlier discussion, Paul noted the program was started in 1986 using grant money.
The child care center also faced a funding shortage in the late 1990s. That's when then-elementary principal Kris Schlievert wrote and received the 21st Century Grant that helped sustain the program.
Paul also noted that when Dr. Steve Colby was superintendent, the rate was increased to $2.50 per hour for infant care to help sustain the program. In 13 years, the rate for infant care has only risen to $2.85 per hour.
"That's just for a historical viewpoint," Paul said.
However, Paul said there are currently no grants available that would help continue the program.
Also, a survey had been sent to parents of ECCC youth seeking information and input.
Regarding one survey respondent who argued he was a taxpayer, Paul noted that this service is not base on taxes and the ECCC does not receive money from taxes.
In response to another parent comment, it was noted General Fund and daycare funds to not cross over.
One other point Paul made is that because the school conducts this program, it must follow federal free and reduced guidelines. Those that fall under those auspices do not pay full price.
Private daycare does not have to follow those guidelines.
Paul noted that even if everyone paid the full rate, the ECCC would still be in the red without a tuition increase.
Another point made by Paul and members is that the school district is not trying to make money, just break even.
Meanwhile school board member Don Schiltz and the rest of the board members directed Paul to research other resources for before- and after-school programs.
Also Paul said there may be other help available.
A representative from a group called Mid Sioux Opportunity of Remsen said their group can come into the community, seek out individuals to fulfill their need and help them find resources. Paul expects to talk to that representative today (Tuesday).